Thursday, 4 December 2014

peep-hole or desk-set

Not long after the invention of photography, thanks to the genius of the Earl of Stanhope in crafting a simple, tiny magnifying lens (which bears his name)—the public also developed quite a penchant for the novelty of microscopic pictures.

Collectors’ Weekly once again presents readers with a curious and curated trove that illustrates the development of this rage. Virtually invisible images could be embedded discretely in any number of everyday objects and people could steal a glance at a loved one, picture-postcard holiday scene, the royal family or a holy icon without worrying about people gawking over their shoulders. Quite a lot of that kind of memorabilia was produced and I remember having these neat little cone-shaped souvenirs from Carlsbad Caverns as a little kid and was amazing by how much depth these pictures of caves seemed to have, disorienting like looking up and over through a periscope—or looking up from a screen after staring at it for too long. It’s funny how those themselves screens are migrating from telephones to less conspicous watch-faces. The majority of miniscule pictures printed, however, were of an arguably less wholesome variety: Victorian ladies and gentlemen kept a stash of more intimate and erotic photos secreted away from prying-eyes in plain sight.