At first glance, L’Astra appears to be an enlarged version of Le Polyphote. The functions and the mechanism show similarities, but L’Astra offers new functions that require a larger device. An extra frosted glass plate on the inside of the device can be removed to place a projection device or lamp. This is probably the main reason for the larger size of L’Astra. Some models of L’Astra supported the viewing of autochromes. The design for autochrome support was patented by Lucien Bize in 1912.
The autochrome colour process was introduced by the Lumière brothers in 1907, and for stereoscope designers, it meant they had to deal with thicker glass plates. Although the number of autochromes sold was relatively small compared to monochrome plates, it was important for manufacturers to support this novelty. The shown model on the next pages has a button on the left that can be pulled out. In this position, and after a full turn of the crank, the tray with slides is moved over a greater distance on the rail to support the thicker autochrome plates. A normal slide tray can contain 24 slides; an autochrome tray contains only 12 slides.
|Year of introduction:
|Year of manufacture:
|6 x 13 cm
|Number of slides:
|Dimensions (L x W x H):
|30 x 27 x 37 cm
|Support for autochromes
Lucien Albert Bize (1866–?) designed a range of innovative and compact stereoscopes in the early 20th century in France. Many names were associated with the manufacturing of his designs. In 1902, Bize patented his first stereoscope design for the detachable hand-held stereoscope that was marketed under the name L’Omnium. His early stereoscope designs were manufactured by Maison Gustave Jacob at 22, Rue Oberkampf in Paris. After Jacob’s bankruptcy in 1911, Bize continued the manufacturing of stereoscopes at 69, Rue Oberkampf.
On 1 January 1913, Bize sold his company to Robert Pleyau. Bize’s last patent was filed in 1912. Pleyau sold a part of his business activities to La Société E. Brose et Cie in 1917, but he remained active as an entrepreneur at 69, Rue Oberkampf. It is unclear if Pleyau sold the business activities that were related to stereoscopes, but it seems that the manufacturing of Bize’s stereoscopes ended during the First World War.
The complete story of Lucien Bize
- Bize, L. (1914) Stéréoscope classeur. Via: data.inpi.fr