Jules Nicolas Richard was born in Lyon on December 19, 1848. The family of father Felix Richard and mother Françoise Antoinette Froment will consist of four sons. Jules is trained as an apprentice in his father’s workshop, which specializes in making barometers. In 1866 he left the company only to return ten years later when the company was in financial trouble. In 1880, Jules Richard patents the first barometer that can permanently record air pressure. With ink, the air pressure values are periodically written on a cylinder. It becomes a great success and the company on Rue Mélingue in Paris starts to grow. From 1887 to 1891 Jules runs the company together with his younger brother Felix-Max as Richard Frères. Due to differences of opinion, the collaboration ends at the end of 1891. Jules will get involved in a lawsuit with his brother and Felix-Max becomes a partner of Léon Gaumont who will become a competitor of Jules. Strangely enough, after the breakup, the name Richard Frères remains in use for a long time.
Stereo photography revival
In 1893 Jules introduced the compact 45x107mm glass format and the Vérascope stereo camera for this new format. A product line was created around the new camera with a wide range of stereoscopes and accessories in different price ranges. These products all bore the name Vérascope and Vérascope Richard became a trademark of stereo photography products. Richard later also introduced the larger glass formats 6x13cm and the less popular 7x13cm, but it was in particular the 45x107mm format that allowed the production of compact and cheaper cameras. It brought stereo photography within the range of the amateurs. Other manufacturers in France adopted the new formats, as did German camera manufacturers such as ICA and Ernemann. It revived stereo photogaphy in Europe and this revival would last well into the 1920s and flourished in France in particular.
By 1914 there were almost as many stereo cameras in use as normal cameras. The Vérascope became the best-selling stereo camera of its time with an estimated production of 52,000 units. Jules Richard also sold his products outside France and was one of the first manufacturers to publish catalogs in the language of the country to which they were exported. The product range was expanded in 1904 with the cheaper Glyphoscope, a simple stereo camera for beginners that could also serve as a stereoscope. The Taxiphote was the most advanced stereoscope of its time. The company became the leading producer of stereo cameras and stereoscopes.
Vérascope Richard became a public company in 1921 and that was the moment that Jules left the company. In 1923 he founded the École des Apprentis Mécaniciens Précisionnistes, where students are trained to make precision instruments. Jules Richard died on June 18, 1930 and is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
- Jules Richard et la Magie du Relief – part 1, Jacques Perin, 1993
See also: blogposts about Vérascope Richard