Mystery Box #2: Completely Random European Glass Stereoviews

While there is no format I enjoy more than European glass stereoviews, I tend to enjoy them on the basis of exploring cohesive collections. What I mean by a “cohesive collection” is that the slides are related, and their relation (as well as other clues like captions, notes on boxes, et cetera) offer context to exploring the stereoviews. Although the views in Mystery Box #1 are not the greatest, they are a cohesive collection. Today’s views are not.

These arrived in a slotted box (about the worst method of shipping possible) having been advertised as “200 glass slides from World War One”. The first ~50 slides in the box were indeed nice Brentano’s views; the first 12 of these were used as the auction pictures. However, the rest of the slides were completely random European glass stereoviews. I demanded (and got) a 50% refund; turns out the seller had only looked at the beginning of the box and based his description on the slides pictured.

Collecting and Over-Collecting

My inclination has always been towards over-collecting – that is to say, collecting far more than I’m interested in if it’s even peripherally related to my focal areas. Now that I am in charge of re-organizing and digitizing the Jordan/Ference/Ference Collection, I no longer have a luxury that I enjoyed while only maintaining my own personal collection. That luxury is space. I have several thousand slides I’ve not even had time to look at; today’s were attached to the Brentano’s Great War slides that accompanied them.

But in the interest of keeping things simple, I just started scanning the first 50 of these last week – and decided as I was scanning that I would deaccession these from my own personal archive. The ~150 European glass stereoviews in the box are not a cohesive collection. There are some damn pretty views in here, but lacking any kind of context (to either explore history or tell a story), they don’t interest me enough to devote the shelf space to them. The captions are in various handwriting styles, in multiple languages. The subjects vary widely. Pretty for pretty’s sake isn’t enough when you live in a small Brooklyn flat.

Deaccessioning Random European Glass Stereoviews

I have listed the entire collection (the 50 images shown plus around 100 more that I didn’t scan) in the boot sale section of the website. This will be the first time I’m actually parting with anything that isn’t an outright duplicate, or that I have zero interest in. These are likely all unique, and I hate parting with unique artifacts. However, I have no desire to be featured on one of those programs where they show hoarder houses. This might be the first of many deaccessions from my private collection, or it might be the only one – it depends on whether all the other boxes of European glass stereoviews I look through and scan are cohesive collections or not.

While these are not suitable for my archives, I know there are plenty of people who collect slides from all over just to own lots of interesting views. If that happens to be you, you might want to grab them, because obviously I only have one of each of these! And if not, hopefully you’ll get enjoyment from some subset of these. There are quite a few images here that I like quite a bit. It’s just not enough to hold on it them.

The Stereoviews

Unlike most scans I make of glass, these were scanned to .JPG with no modification either in the scanner software or in Photoshop. Generally, I scan to DNG and enhance the image, clean major nonsense off of it, etc. However, as these are going to be offered for sale, they are exactly as they appear – admittedly, quite a bit worse than they look through a proper stereoscope. No matter what process is used, a computer screen is never the best way to enjoy European glass stereoviews.


As always, anaglyphs are a fun way to see 3D on a computer for those who cannot parallel view. Generally, 45x107mm European glass stereoviews do not produce the greatest anaglyphs, and this is as true here as anywhere. Unlike the basic scans shown above, some minimal amount of interpretation on my part was obviously necessary to create pleasing anaglyphs. The experience of these slides through a viewer (I used a handheld Unis whilst scanning) is far more enjoyable.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: