Item 2018.09.02.053 - Sculptscope viewer (Whiting)

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Title proper

Sculptscope viewer (Whiting)

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  • Object
  • Multiple media

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Dates of creation area


  • [ca.1925] (Creation)
    Whiting, Richard R.
  • [ca.1925] (Manufacturing)
    American Novelty Company

Physical description area

Physical description

One piece of photographic viewing equipment : stereoscope ; 96 photographic images : 96 stereograph cards ; 40 x 20 x 28 cm

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Name of creator

([between ca. 1900 and 19--])

Biographical history

Richard R. Whiting and his brother William A. Whiting began their careers as salesmen for Keystone Viewing Company until leaving their positions to start their own company in the early turn of the twentieth century. Whiting purchased a number of patents for compact portable stereoscopes with built in storage. The brothers began publishing stereo views until reorganizing the company in 1913 under the name American Novelty Company. With a new company title came a new focus- manufacturing coin operated machines. This included designs like the Sculptoscope that sold in quantity until World War II.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This item is a large metal circular shaped stereoscope with glass flower designs on the sides. This coin operated stereoscope activates a mechanism that turns a metal belt containing built in stereographs. Richard R. Whiting formed the American Novelty Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. Whiting developed and sold stereoscopes from the 1880s till the mid-1900s. He manufactured the sculptoscope in 1925. The sculptoscope was commonly seen in arcades and cigar shops. This object was used to view two nearly identical photographs, or stereographs, as one three dimensional image. The stereograph would be placed in the card holder then users would look through the lenses hood which would overlap the two images to mimic a three-dimensional effect. The sculptoscope uses a simple trigger for actuation. The counterweight cylindrical foot in front the viewer holds it in a comfortable viewing position and acts as a coin box. The top of the viewer has a plain glass window to illuminate the stereoviews and allow the user to look at the back of the previous card. A penny releases a set of 15 views to be show.

Patent # 1, 436, 742 (November 28, 1922).

Notes area

Physical condition

Structure is experiencing rust and possible mould

Immediate source of acquisition

Collected by the late Dr. Martin J. Bass and Gail Silverman Bass and donated to the Ryerson University Library and Archives by Gail Bass in 2018


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Open. Records are available for consultation without restriction

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Artifact of the Month. Whiting's Sculptoscope (Online).Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. Retrieved from

Wing, Paul (1996) Stereoscopes: The First One Hundred Years. Nashua, New Hampshire: Transition Publishing.

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