The Keystone View Company

Keystone View Company of Meadville, Pa., was the world's largest producer of stereographs and was in business from 1892 to 1970 on a limited basis.  The company was founded by Benneville L. Singley who at one time worked for Underwood. Singley photographed many of the views sold by Keystone. Keystone would eventually purchase almost all of their competitors. The remains of the Keystone Company are housed at the University of California, a link will be found on the "More Info" page. Singley filed for 2 patents for stereoscopes, the first in 1898, about the time Keystone started producing them. C. L. Pappenhagen, an employee of the company filed for 4 patents for a total of 6 for the company. Here are some examples of the many forms of hand held stereoscopes produced by Keystone.

 

           

Typical Keystone viewers, metal hoods with various marks and all wood models. 1892 - 1920  The Keystone "Monarch" with the stag elk was a trademark and the most common. Other symbols found are the "Chief" and a running horse labeled "Winner". Company names include Keystone View Company, Keyvuco, Presko and J. I. Austen Co. and there may be others as well.

Stereoviews were sold in sets housed in slip case boxes that looked like books. They were also sold in wood cases in various sizes containing 50, 100 or 200 views. The case shown below was called the Drawing Room Cabinet. It contained 200 views and two matching viewers. In a 1897 catalog the views sold for 16 2/3 cents each or $33. Two viewers were valued at 90 cents each and the lined case was sold at $5 for a total of $40.13, a good deal of money in those times. The smaller "Royal" cabinet contained 50 views and one viewer. The case was priced at $2.50.

 

More Viewers

The Art Deco "Televiewer"  received Patent 1703787, application dated December 20, 1927. Note the squared hood and the electric light attachments. Available with the stand shown or housed in a box marked "Televiewer". It was mainly sold with boxed sets of 100, 300, 600 or 1200 views.

 

         

The "Telebinocular"  viewer also used patent 1703787, application dated December 20, 1927. Right viewer shown in a library case marked "Telebinocular" that matched the boxed sets. This viewer may also be found with an electric light. The Telebinocular was mainly sold with boxed sets.

 

Keystone Junior

A secondary line for Keystone was the Keystone Junior series of views and viewers. These were a smaller sized view and were quite popular. Viewers will be found in various colors and in at least two different styles.

 

Keystone "Junior" 1933 Worlds Fair, Chicago

 

The Model 40 - Patent #2261850 November 4, 1941, also called the "School Viewer" and will be found in various colors, Note the new handle design.

A Model 40 with a library table stand. There are other stand configurations.

 

Keystone Vision Training

In later years Keystone created a large series of medical aids which included viewers and views that were used for eye correction exercises. These were quite popular and were sold by Keystone into the 1960's. Viewers will be identified by the scale on the slide. Viewers include the Model 40 shown above and the Model 50 which was made of plastic and was quite a good viewer. A few of these are shown here.

The Model 50 "Eye-Comfort Unit" in Red, Green and Blue

 

The Keystone Lending Library

 

A little known free service of Keystone View Company was the Keystone Lending Library. Salesmen could include the Lending Library as an incentive to make sales. Customers could borrow views and purchase individual cards for 25 cents each. The Lending Library kit contained a mailing case, addressed gummed label and instruction card. The mailing case is made of black coated paper, with riveted corners and had a woven strap and buckle to keep the top and bottom half together. The following card, ca. 1934. shows the views available from the Library and the instructions for mailing and buying views.

Keystone Lending Library mailing case.

 

2006 - Del Phillips