- - Warning to Collectors, Dec. 2013 - -
I would never deny the fact, much of my collection has been assembled through Ebay, and while they do an excellent job today of intercepting outright fake auctions, I'm noticing a trend of legitimate auctions, for what may be not so legitimate early stereo cameras. Please take this note for what it's worth, and consider a few certain factors when assessing old wood stereo cameras. Late 19th century stereo cameras were manufactured to very high standards. They did not come with mismatched lenses. If there are any even subtle variations between the shapes of the two lenses, be careful. If the serial numbers of the two lenses are different by a thousand, or even a few hundred, be careful. If the lens mounts are a different color brass from the lenses, be careful. If the markings on the lenses are not identical in detail, be careful. This is in addition to the normal caveats of checking that all of the screw heads are aligned, and that the finish is an even, glossy French polish. If it appears matt, it's probably not correct. If some portions are glossier than others, it's probably been at least partially refinished. I hate being out bid for something I really want, but I hate seeing anyone buy something which is not quite as represented.
Stereo, or 3D photography is nothing new. In fact, our understanding of binocular vision only narrowly preceded the invention of photography. With an exciting new means of capturing and preserving moments in time, extending the technology of photography to incorporate three dimensional vision was a natural progression.
The categories listed below do not represent hard start/stop points between eras, particularly as relates to cameras made prior to WWI. The differences between the first two categories are more a question of style, and there is considerable overlap between them. One could argue the World Wars had as much or more impact on camera aesthetics and construction than any specific technological advance. The transition from camera as object of manufacturing skill, to camera as appliance, took something on the order of 30 years. Therefore, while I use turn of the century as an artificial break point, there are several pieces presented outside the era in which they were actually constructed.