The story of Mattey

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Mattey was one of the leading stereoscope manufacturers in France. The company offered the widest range of stereoscopes of all manufacturers. Their portfolio ranged from simple hand-held viewers to advanced multiple-view devices. Mattey’s major competitors, Jules Richard and Léon Gaumont, manufactured both stereoscopes and stereo cameras, but Mattey only focused on stereoscopes and other viewing devices for photos, autochromes and postcards. The company also supplied viewers to resellers who sold them using their own brands. The business-to-business market was probably more important to the firm than the consumer market. Many stereoscopes were sold unbranded but can be linked with certainty to the company because they appeared in Mattey’s catalogues. The exact influence and scope of the company on the stereoscopy business in the early 20th century in France and abroad remain largely unclear.

The Paris company was founded in 1872 by André Elie Victor Mattey. The firm did not start as a manufacturer of stereoscopes and was mentioned as an optical company in the 18842. André’s son Albert Georges joined the company, and Société Mattey père et fils was established on 31 December 19023. The creation of the new company coincided with Mattey’s acquisition of stereoscope manufacturer Legendre in the same year4. Legendre was located at 8, Rue Pastourelle in Paris and had acquired stereoscope manufacturer Wytenhove in 1898. The Auguste Wytenhove 1894–1895 catalogue shows a large number of stereoscopes and other viewers5. This catalogue is therefore important to understand the wide range of stereoscopes that later appeared in the catalogues of Mattey. With the acquisition of Legendre, Mattey bought a stereoscope range, stock, a factory and market share.

Mattey was located at 119, Rue Saint-Maur and at 8, Rue Pastourelle (former location of Legendre). The company moved to 208, Rue Saint-Maur in 19066. They would stay there for more than 30 years. New company acquisitions followed thought the years. Fouquet7 and Laurent8 were acquired in 1908 and Pennard in 19119. These later acquisitions were probably mainly intended to increase market share. The acquired companies Legendre, Pennard and Fouquet were renowned, and Mattey referred to the predecessors in his catalogues. The newly created brand Pennard & Fouquet was used by Mattey for the more exclusive products in their range. The company used two other brands, the 8&9 logo can be found on revolving stereoscopes and the star logo appears on pantoscopes. Mattey was also granted to use the Unis France trademark. Unis France was a collective trademark to guarantee the French origin of high-quality products, made by different companies. Many Mattey stereoscopes were branded Unis France through the years.

Société Mattey père et fils was dissolved on 1 January 191210, and the company was continued by Albert Georges as Stéréoscopes A. Mattey. The company moved to 15, Rue Clavel in 193711. Albert Georges was seriously injured in the Second World War while fleeing during the invasion of France in 1940. He died in a hospital in Bourges. In his obituary, he was characterised as follows12:

Hard worker, loyal man, clever tradesman, Mr. Mattey had acquired a dominant position in the industry of stereoscopic devices, whose outlets were extremely important in the past.

After the war, the company restarted on 1 January 1947 as Société des Anciens Établissements A. Mattey13. The company was founded by the descendants of Albert Georges, Alice Mattey and Pierre Mattey, and René André Sanner. The management consisted of Pierre Mattey and Pierre Vanet (Alice’s husband). The company still manufactured stereoscopes in 1952, although the heydays of stereoscopy were over by then.

From 1956, the company was continued as A. Mattey S.A. (Société Anonyme)14. Although there are stereoscopes bearing the name of the new company, it gradually focused on manufacturing exclusive wooden humidors for cigars. The minutes of a company meeting show that Alice Mattey was still working for the company in 1993. The firm closed its doors on 9 June 199915. This ended the more than 125-year history of the company that left a major mark on the stereoscopy market at the beginning of the 20th century.


  1. Barbe, C. Généalogie de Albert Georges Mattey. Via: ↩︎
  2. Société de protection des apprentis et des enfants employés dans les manufactures (1884), p. 299. Via: ↩︎
  3. L’Information photographique (1902), p. 80. Via: ↩︎
  4. L’Information photographique (1902), p. 47. Via: ↩︎
  5. Wytenhove, A (1894) Stéréoscopes – Monocles et Pantoscopes. Via: ↩︎
  6. L’Information photographique (1906), p. 309. Via: ↩︎
  7. Archives commerciales de la France (1908), p. 1317. Via: ↩︎
  8. Archives commerciales de la France (1908), p. 587. Via: ↩︎
  9. Archives commerciales de la France (1911), p. 189. Via: ↩︎
  10. Archives commerciales de la France (1912), p. 539. Via: ↩︎
  11. La Revue française de photographie et de cinématographie (1937). Via: ↩︎
  12. Le Photographe : organe des photographes professionnels (1940), p. 5. Via: ↩︎
  13. Les Annonces de la Seine : journal officiel d’annonces judiciaires et légales (1946), p. 2784. Via: ↩︎
  14. A. Mattey S.A – Identité de l’enterprise. Via: ↩︎
  15. Ibid. ↩︎