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Help identify this strange French optical viewer

This is a device that is new to me, I don't even know what to call it. 6 x 6" box, it has a concave mirror and slots to fit photos. Not at all like a Graphoscope. You position yourself behind the photo and view the enlarged image in the mirror. Rather clever, as you can see both the front and back of a CDV at the same time.

Does anyone know what this is called?

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Comment by david g burder on May 18, 2020 at 14:16

A side thought- As John Marriage said, the mirror reverses the image. So, it would be one way of correcting a Daguerreotype, as well as enlarging its detail. Handy!

Comment by david g burder on May 18, 2020 at 11:30

Being interested in all things 3D, I also have some later variations of this, circa 1950's, which I purchased over the years at Photographica.

In front of me, I have The "Ensign Snapscope" with its 4 1/2inch diameter mirror, and its original cardboard box, labelled as giving "an enlarged view of your snaps.. also gives a Stereo-scopic effect".

Indeed, prints do seem to display this 3D illusion, maybe due to the isolation of the image from the card itself, and also the distortion. Even looking on my computer screen at John Marriage's image of a child, the image in his mirror, does indeed look to be almost 3D (using either one or both eyes)!

What is significant is that the slot for the photo, is paper thin, and the mirror only shows about 3 1/2 inch wide area of a print. In other words, it was designed specifically for all those familiar little black and white family prints of the period, often contact prints from 127 and 120 roll film negs. However, I do find that the Stereo effect is really only impressive if the perceived image does not allow the border of the print  to be seen, i.e. the print is over 4 inches wide.


Comment by Glenn C. Samson on May 18, 2020 at 7:54

I have one like this and it is called a SHOMESCOPE.  It is trademarked as such, and on the bottom states:


Shomescope Mfg. Co., Kansas City, Mo.

Comment by Daniel Catan on May 11, 2020 at 18:48

Fabriqué par la société Clément et Gilmer, 10 rue de Malte Paris XIe.

Comment by John Marriage on May 11, 2020 at 9:00

I have something like this too, and have been somewhat puzzled about its use. Unlike yours it has no maker's mark. A key practical difference is that there are three grooves for the pictures, and they are all too narrow to take a CdV or a Cabinet card. They do accept an unmounted print. My viewer is 7" square with a mirror 5.5" diameter. Only quite a small photo would fill the view - the example shown is 6" wide, we can only see half of it, and I'd say if you want to see the whole picture, about 3x3" would be a sensible size to use. Note also that the view is laterally inverted, so not suitable for all images.

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