Lecture: “Embroidery and Economic Opportunity in Early Federal Period America”
Samuel Newman's Society of the Cincinnati Certificate

"Look Before You Leap!": Highlights from the Stereocard Collection on Flickr

Stereocards, also known as stereoview cards or stereographic views, are comprised of two identical photograph prints mounted on card stock. They are viewed through a stereoscope in order to produce a three-dimensional image. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns over 200 stereocards and has added many of them to our new stereocard album on Flickr. [Please visit our Flickr page to see a selection of detailed stereocard images from our collection,including these two cards from a series titled “Look before you Leap!”  Lodge 9581.]

88_42_89aDS1 88_42_89bDS1These stereocards, produced by the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, feature a comic depiction of a Masonic initiation. Photographer Alfred Silvester (1831-1886) created the original photographic series in 1860.

The Look before you Leap! series included three stereocards: The Initiate!, The Ordeal!, and The Obligation! This particular series has several editions, including some tinted with color. There is an advertisement for this specific stereoscope series in an 1859 edition of Athenaeum: Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts. The short ad is titled “Masonic Mysteries” and touts “these extraordinary slides should be in the possession of every one who desires to gain an insight into the secret rights of Freemasonry…”  

George S. Nottage (1823-1885), a former Mayor of London, founded The London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, with his cousin, Howard John Kennard (1829-1896) in 1854. The company was active through 1922 and functioned as a photography studio and supply company before specializing in the mass production of stereoscopic photographs. To find out more about other stereocards in our collection see our previous blog posts here. Or visit our online collection at http://www.srmml.org/collections/online-collections/.


The Initiate!, 1860, Alfred Silvester, photographer; London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company; publisher, London, England, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.89b.

The Ordeal!, 1860, Alfred Silvester, photographer; London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company; publisher, London, England, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.89a.


Ymelda Laxton

Thank you for the information and for reading the blog. It is truly helpful! We will be adding the image and info you sent to our files.

Tyler Anderson

The third of the series can be seen here, an unmarked card with hand-tinting.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)