My introduction to stereoscopy was purely coincidental. As a photographer, I am specialised in the theme Historic Landscapes, a combination of landscape photography and history. In 2009, I visited the First World War battlefield of Verdun in France. I was impressed by what I saw and started a photo project that I would eventually work on for ten years.
My connection to this project prompted me to search on eBay for an original trench map of the battlefield. I eventually found this map, but not before I came across a collection of obscure glass plates with stereo photos of the battle. I knew little about stereo photography, but these slides fascinated me. I went looking for more images of Verdun and started collecting them, with no apparent purpose.
In the meantime, I tried to find out more about the background. Who were the photographers and publishers? How many slides exist? I found that the resources were scarce. Things changed when I found the website The Great War in 3D, with a large collection of stereoviews from the Jordan/Ference collection and information about the publishers. In the same period, I bought my first stereoscope, a Zeiss Ikon hand-held stereoscope. The first time I looked at a stereoview through the lenses was a wonderful experience, and a new passion was born.
I started collecting glass stereoviews from the First World War, but I also started looking for stereoscopes and stereo cameras. I immersed myself in the history and wanted to know everything about the makers. The fact that the sources were limited made it even more challenging and my collection now also contains catalogues and advertisements that often contain valuable information about the history.
My introduction to erotic stereoviews was also coincidental. I bought a Taxiphote stereoscope in 2018. This acquisition included 300 glass stereoviews. This is nothing special and usually these are family and holiday photos of the first owner. Nice to look at, but often these are not the most interesting images. However, this purchase included 73 stereoviews with nude models from Jules Richard’s Atrium collection. I knew of the existence of these slides and my first reaction was that I had made a good acquisition because the individual slides can be very profitable on online auction sites. I became interested in the story behind the images that come from a time when nude photography was not as obvious as it is today.
André Ruiter, November 2023