3. “Stereopticon!” Depicts Civil War 2017-06-14T13:29:50+00:00

3. Early Shows

New Stereopticon Depicts Civil War Rebellion

The word “Stereopticon” captures the excitement of this new, more “scientific” name for a bigger and more powerful magic lantern show.

The Stereopticon Show was introduced in Philadelphia in 1860 and the name was rapidly picked up by most of the show’s competitors.  The stereopticon was not “3-D” but was usually a dissolving two-lens, or “biunial” lantern.  It showed photographic slides that were so sharp they had a 3-D appearance—or so it was claimed.

This broadside promotes a Civil War Show featuring slides that were probably made from a combination of photographs and photographed etchings or wood engravings.  (Similar slide shown.)  The show includes a slide of the Battle of Petersburg, June 15, 1864, just four months before this lantern performance, so this show is an early form of current-events screen production. The Civil War remained a popular subject in lantern shows for the next 40 years.

Archival Notes

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