Interior view of the Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace, London, 1851.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph from a set of stereo pairs for use with the Wheatstone stereoscope. The Crystal Palace was built to house the 'Great Exhibition of the Works of the Industry of all Nations', conceived by Prince Albert (1819-1861). It was the first large-scale prefabricated ferrovitreous (iron and glas) structure and was designed by the landscape designer Joseph Paxton (1801-1865). Charles Wheatstone invented the stereoscope in 1838 in order to demonstrate binocular vision. Using mirrors, the device presents a pair of identical images, one to either eye, thus creating an apparently three-dimensional image to the viewer. Over 250,000 stereoscopes were sold in Paris and London over a three month period in 1851.