The Brewster viewer is one of the earliest means of viewing the stereograph. By 1856, Sir David Brewster reported that he had sold over half a million viewers. The design follows the requirements of the views being used at the time. The Brewster can be used for viewing tintypes, Daguerreotypes, glass views, tissue views and the early flat mount views made in quantity into the 1880's. Most Brewster's have a opaque glass at the back of the viewer to allow light to pass through glass and tissue views. Very early models may have a hinged wood door to cover the glass at the back. A hinged door at the top can be adjusted as needed to point reflected light from the inside of the door onto non transparent views. Many different forms of these were produced, some on ornate stands.
The viewer shown here is one of the early Brewster's and may have been produced by Brewster himself. It was sold by several retailers and will be found labeled with a bone or ivory medallion, Claudet, Carpenter & Wesley or Photographic Institution to name a few. It has brass eye pieces that can be moved in and out for ocular adjustment. It was produced in several different wood veneers. It may be found painted or with a mirror on the inside of the reflecting door.
The following stereograph was taken about 1856 by Roger Fenton of London. It is labeled "Artistic Group" and was taken to show the then current capability of the single lens camera. Included in the group are parian ware statues, a Brewster viewer like the one shown above and three stereoviews.
The Brewster viewer shown below was likely produced in France starting in the 1870's and sold in England and the Continent and are quite common. The eye piece is hinged for cleaning and they will be found with silver paint on the inside of the reflecting door or with a mirror. There was a opaque glass at the end of the viewer. They were produced into the early 1900's.
© 2007 - Del PhillipsRev 10-22-2008