Theft of stereographic viewer and cards reported at Pa. Anthracite Museum

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HARRISBURG, Pa. – Brent D. Glass, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, announced the theft of a stereographic viewer and 34 stereoview cards from the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton.

The cards were produced in 1897 by the Keystone View Company, which had offices in Meadville, Crawford County, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Important materials. “These artifacts belong to the people of Pennsylvania,” Glass said. “They are part of our heritage and must be recovered and returned to the Anthracite Heritage Museum.

“Their presence helps to interpret the lives of the residents of the coal-mining region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

The stereograph, or stereoview, consisted of a double set of paper prints mounted on card stock to be viewed through a stereoscope, producing a 3-D image.

They became a popular photographic medium in Europe in the mid-1800s, and through mass production methods became widely distributed in the United States by the 1880s.

Stereographs reached their peak of popular distribution in the years 1902-1935 through the business efforts of such companies as the Keystone View Company and Underwood & Underwood.

How they work. Stereographic cameras produced a negative with two views of the same image side by side on a glass plate.

Prints from such negatives were intended to be seen through a stereographic viewer, which would provide a 3-D image.

The cards are 3.5 inches high by 7 inches wide and hold sepia color photographic images. Each card and the viewer are marked with an accession number beginning with “AC.”

Be on the lookout. Glass asked all museum officials, antiques dealers, collectors, flea market customers and Internet auction buyers to report any suspicious artifacts offered for sale to the Borough of Taylor police at 570-562-2210, or Steve Ling, museum administrator of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, at 570-963-4804.

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