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French Boite d'Optique (Optical Box)
Stereographica - Antique Photographica
Courtesy of Bryan and Page Ginns (#16/40)
The instrument comprises a wooden cube on the top, housing a mirror at a 45 degree angle allowing the viewer to look through the lens and see the view displayed on the bottom shelf. The base measures 13.5" x 21.5", the height is 28.25". Please refer to Dick Balzer's book "Peep Shows - A Visual History". On page 11 there is an illustration of a similar item, the print is dated 1769, indicating that this item may be even earlier than 1780. On page 31 in the same book illustrates a similar type of viewer dated 1800. John Hammond's fine book, "The Camera Obscura" indicates that this instrument could also be used as a camera obscura. This is an important and highly desirable piece of pre-photographic history.