This perky pug (I love the title “A Hot Sport”–you can barely make it out in the bottom right) is part of our stereograph card collection in the Special Collections Department of the Saint Louis Public Library.
If you’re wondering why you’re seeing double, its because stereograph cards are designed to create a three dimensional image when two near-identical images are viewed through a stereoscope–a picture viewing device that looks like a cross between a masquerade mask and steam-punk goggles. It works by tricking the brain to make a composite of two flat images, which appear three dimensional when put together.
Stereoscope technology was invented in the mid-19th century, and was popular in American parlors (along with the term “parlor”) through the end of WWI. The device was used to view all kinds of images, from the everyday to the exotic. Most of the stereographs in our collection are travel pictures that depict people and places from around the world (the dog is kind of an anomaly in our collection, which is what makes him so special to me).
If you’re interested in learning more about the stereoscope, check out our copy of Two Points of View, the history of the parlor stereoscope by Harold F. Jenkins, 1957 (a gem in itself, albeit a bit worn from decades of use). If you just like dogs in stove pipe hats like I do, come and see “Hot Sport” for yourself. Our Special Collections Department (along with the rest of Central Library) will reopen to the public on December 9th.