One-shot #30: London Zoo Penguins, by Sunbeam Tours Ltd.

Regular readers of this blog might be wondering what the most expensive item in my “Christmas in July” hall could be. Might it have been the wonderfully weird Mikro-Kino filmstrips, with titles such as “By Car Through Finland. Part I.“? The Great War glass views, or those of the Moulin Rouge? The VistaScreens, the Imperial tiny views, the ViewMaster reels, the amateur glass that makes up Marie-Noëlle’s collection? Nope. By dollars-per-stereo-pair, this single, no-name, cheapo-looking thin paper stereoview (and its postage from Great Britain) takes the award for “most expensive treasure” from the lot:

Sunbeam Tours, Ltd., No. 32: LONDON ZOO PENGUINS

Ridiculous, right? But I love penguins, and I try to grab every penguin-related stereoview I can find, good or bad. And honestly, for something apparently released for advertising purposes, which does not fit any standard viewer that I know of (but is easily free-viewed), this is a damn fine penguin stereoview. It’s miles ahead of the much-mocked Camouflaged Penguin photographed by William H. Rau. And even in terms of London Zoo penguins, we’ve seen one in the corresponding Vistascreen set, photographed by Stanley Long:

Which is almost certainly much more recent, dating to the 1950s rather than the 1910s-1920s of the Sunbeam Tours view – and yet not as good of an image, with lopped-off penguin feet, an unnecessary zookeeper in the background, a single species of penguin, and so on. Sunbeam’s view at least had Humboldt in the mix! Whatever Sunbeam Tours was, which I’m not going to bother to research due to my strong suspicion that they didn’t specialize in penguins and therefore produced stereoviews that I don’t care about, they managed to capture a really nice (if unusually portrait-format) scene here. The strange, tall-but-thin piece of paper might have been (comparatively) expensive, but it was worth every penny. It looks good in parallel view; it also looks good in…


One Reply to “One-shot #30: London Zoo Penguins, by Sunbeam Tours Ltd.”

  1. Absolutely right – Sunbeam didn’t specialise in penguins but packs of 12 cards in that same format (that one is from – you guessed – “London Zoo”). Apparently there are 3 packs of 10 titled “Hamburg Zoo” but I’ve not seen them – maybe there’s another penguin there. Usually scenes from around the world, dating from the 20s and 30s. I’ve identified 68 different packets so far. Card format was viewable in the foldable metal Camerascopes of the time, which also fitted Cavanders stereo cigarette cards. Sunbeam Travel previously did the older, card style stereo cards before moving to this one.

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