Smith, Beck & Beck table-top stereoscope

A table-top stereoscope. manufactured by Smith, Beck & Beck from London. It’s designed for viewing stereocards and glass stereoviews.

At first glance, this stereoscope looks like a multi viewer, but in fact it has more in common with a handheld stereoscope mounted on a base plate. The base plate folds into its storage box which serves as a stand. Stored in the box, the base plate of the viewer becomes the cover and two locks hold the assembly together. The stereoscope is suitable for 8,5x17cm paper card stereoviews or glass stereoviews. A mirror can be placed in two brass arms to illuminate the glass stereoviews. The viewer part can be tilted to enhance the viewing experience.

Smith, Beck & Beck table-top stereoscope

The two achromatic lenses can be focussed but the distance between the lenses is not adjustable. The left lens has the inscription R & J Beck, which indicates that it’s manufactured in 1865 or later (Smith retired from the company that year). Between both lenses the serialnumber 2383 is engraved.

Large wooden storage cabinets were available to store collections of stereoviews. The stereoscope was introduced in 1860 and apparently a great success because it was still mentioned in a catalog from 1890.


  1. Wing, Paul. Stereoscopes: the first one hundred years, 1996
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