stereo (3)

Stereo highlights by JE Ellam (1857-1920)

My thanks to those who've responded to my blogpost-a-day throughout September on a cache of recently discovered amateur stereos by James Edward Ellam (1857-1920). Link here They date from the 1890s when James was refining his stereoscopic technique before working for Underwood & Underwood of London. Here are a few highlights from week 1.

1. "On The Look Out, Runswick Bay." 


 2. "West Window, Whitby Abbey 1893."


"Bracklinn Falls, Callander."


If you have Ellam stereos in your collection, I would be very interested to hear from you.

I'm trying to establish whether these stereocards and others bearing a "J. E. Ellam" credit on the verso exist as duplicates, perhaps suggesting that they were sold commercially.

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12201015453?profile=originalIn our contemporary image-saturated, comprehensively mediated way of life it is difficult for us to understand how "sensational" photography would have been in the Victorian era. Imagine never having seen a photograph of a landscape, city or person before. To then be suddenly presented with a image written in light, fixed before the eye of the beholder, would have been a profoundly magical experience for the viewer. Here was a new, progressive reality imaged for all to see. The society of the spectacle as photograph had arrived.

Here was the expansion of scopophilic society, our desire to derive pleasure from looking. That fetishistic desire can never be completely fulfilled, so we have to keep looking again and again, constantly reinforcing the ocular gratification of images. Photographs became shrines to memory. They also became shrines to the memory of desire itself.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart

See the full posting here:

Photography - A Victorian Sensation shows at the National Museum of Scotland until 22 November. 


Ross and Thomson of Edinburgh
Unknown little girl sitting on a striped cushion holding a framed portrait of a man, possibly her dead father
Ninth-plate daguerreotype
© Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland

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