British photographic history

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LSC launches the first set of facsimile French Diableries cards

The London Stereoscopic Company has launched the first set of facsimile French Diableries cards…..with more to come.  The scenes depicted in these Diableries were made in clay, on a table-top, with amazing skill, by a small bunch of gifted sculptors, and then photographed with a stereo camera. The resulting stereo pair of prints was made on thin albumen paper, and water-colours were applied - not to the front surface, as in the case of normal stereo cards - but to the back of the prints. The eyes of each skeleton were then pricked out with a sharp instrument, and small pieces of red gel, or blobs of reddened varnish, were applied to the back of the pricked holes. Behind this pair of prints was added a layer of tissue paper, which hid the 'works' to the rear surface of the view. The print and the backing tissue were then mounted together, sandwiched between two cardboard frames - each with twin cut-out 'windows' for the prints, and the whole was glued together to make a French Tissue stereo card.

The cards, called 'Diableries' (which translates roughly as 'Devilments') depict a whole imaginary underworld, populated by devils, satyrs and skeletons which are very much alive and, for the most part, having fun. The cards are works of art in themselves, and are known as FRENCH TISSUES, constructed in a special way to enable them to be viewed (in a stereoscope) illuminated from the front, for a normal 'day' appearance in monochrome, or illuminated from the back, transforming the view into a 'night' scene, in which hidden colours magically appear, and the eyes of the skeletons leap out in red, in a most macabre way!

These facsimile cards, loving restored and created by Brian May – where does he find the time? – are quite magical, even down to the glowing red eyes which glint menacingly in the light.

For further details and how to order the cards and accompanying “Owl” stereoscope, see the London Stereoscopic Company website http://www.londonstereo.com/index.html

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