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Charles Piazzi Smyth
Stereoscopic Book Illustrations - Mr. C. Piazzi Smith's forthcoming account
1857, 31 October
Published in Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, No.96., Oct. 31, 1857, p.356
Stereoscopic Book Illustrations. Mr. C. Piazzi Smith's forthcoming account of his Astronomical Expedition to the Peak of Teneriffe is to be illustrated by twenty, double vignette photo-stereographs. This is such an important step in the application of photography to book illustration that we must quote the publisher's remarks upon the subject.
"The publisher, anxious as the author to put all the actual facts of nature in the elevated regions that were visited as completely as possible before the public, has been earnestly at work for some time past, and has now succeeded in maturing plans for illustrating the letterpress with a series of photo-stereographs, which will be found to do neither more nor less than veritable reproductions of the scenes themselves.
"This method of book-illustration never having been attempted before, may excuse a word on this part of the subject. By its necessary faithfulness, a photograph of any sort must keep a salutary check on the pencil or longbow of the traveller; but it is not perfect; it may be tampered with, and may suffer from accidental faults of the material. These, which might sometimes produce a great alteration of meaning in important parts of a view, may, however, be eliminated, when, as here, we have two distinct pictures of each object
"Correctness is thus ensured; and then if we wish to enjoy the effects either of solidity or of distance, effects which are the cynosures of all the great painters, we have only to combine the two photographs stereoscopically, and those bewitching qualities are produced. Stereographs have not hitherto been bound up, as plates, in a volume; yet that will be found a most convenient way of keeping them, not incompatible with the use of the ordinary stereoscope, provided it is glazed at the base with clear in place of ground glass, and well adapted for a new form of the instrument, which the publisher anticipates being able to produce at a very moderate cost, under the name of the ' Book Stereoscope.'
"The plates, though packed up between the flat boards of a book, will appear on examination to have all the solidity, and all the appearance of distance, that the spectator could have acquired from viewing the scenes themselves."