Unseen Charles Dickens photo revealed by Dr Brian May and photo historian Denis Pellerin

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10 November 2021
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Brian May and photo historian/author of the book, Denis Pellerin
An unseen photo of Charles Dickens is one of the highlights of an archive photo collection charting the first three decades of photography.

The release marks the launch of Stereoscopy: The dawn of 3D, a new book which shares hundreds of previously unseen stereo photos of the Victorians.

Following the invention and popularisation of Stereoscopy in the mid 19th century, millions of Victorians peered into a small, dark box and were transported into another dimension. The immersive realism of what we now call 3D beckoned to them to experience the far-flung wonders of the world without ever leaving their fireside. The book tells the whole story, illustrated with the very stereoscopic pictures that captivated those Victorians. 

Dr Brian May, who edited the book said: ‘: "STEREOSCOPY - the Dawn of 3-D" - is the book I have dreamed of publishing since we resurrected the London Stereoscopic Company in 2006. It’s actually the most important book we have ever produced, because it chronicles the birth and first steps of what we now call 3-D – the very core of what we at the LSC proudly bring to the 21st century. 

‘Denis Pellerin, probably the foremost Stereo Photography historian in the world right now, has made it possible, with his uniquely original research, to put the historical record straight in this book. It’s quite shocking that nobody has undertaken to tell this story in its entirety until now, and some of the revelations you will find in the book are in themselves shocking, because so many falsehoods have been perpetuated over the years about what actually happened. The rivalries which led to serial misinformation are thoroughly explored in this work, and the result is a proper and final restoration of Charles Wheatstone as the true discoverer of Stereopsis, and the true inventor of the Stereoscope, the ancestor of every 3-D and Virtual Reality device in the world today. 

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A stereoscopic image of Charles Wheatstone, the true discoverer of Stereopsis and inventor of the Stereoscope, with Antoine Claudet and family, 1854

‘The story begins in 1832, when Wheatstone, a true Victorian genius and polymath, discovered why creatures such as humans have two eyes instead of one, and how this enables them instantaneously to perceive their surroundings in depth – a massive evolutionary advantage. "STEREOSCOPY” for the very first time tells the full story of how this discovery became a world-wide sensation.’

Denis Pellerin said: ‘This book has been in my head for so long and has involved so much research that I am thrilled it is being released at last, thanks to the efforts and dedication of Dr. Brian May and all of our team. It is a dream come true! This publication should set a few things right about the history of the first thirty years of the medium and should put stereoscopy once more in the limelight, where it rightfully belongs.’

The unseen Charles Dickens photograph

Stereoscopy: The Dawn of 3-D, by Denis Pellerin, Edited by Brian May. Published on 10 November 2021.