Stanhope













Stanhope



Stanhopes , first produced in the second half of the 19th century, are small, novelty mementoes that contain a miniature peep-hole revealing a 'mystery' photograph. They are an excellent theme for the budget collector.



Stanhope





If you look carefully at the end of a hone needle case or the top of a dip pen from the 1860s onwards, you may find inset a tiny glass bead. This is the Stanhope proper - a lens just millimetres wide to which one or more minute photographs, which look like black pinheads, are attached. When held up to the light and close to the eye, the lens magnifies the micro- photograph to reveal the picture as if projected on a tiny screen.

Stanhope











Stanhope





The nam'Stanhope' comes from Charles Stanhope, the 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753—1816), who invented a uniquely powerful hand magnifying lens, achieving enlargements previously possible 








Stanhopes such as rings, tiepins, watch keys, and smallpencils often contain saucy nudes and other erotic images. Intendedfor gentlemen,they are a specialist and valuable category with a crossover appeal to collectors of erotica.






About 50 years after Stanhope's death, his invention was adapted for use in souvenirs. An Englishman, John Benjamin Dancer, invented micro-photography in 1839, but it was a Frenchman, Rene Dagron, who combined the Stanhope lens with the Dancer micro-photograph in 1860 to make a tiny viewer with an image attached to the lens. He then began setting his device into everyday objects and souvenirs of locations or historic events.
Stanhope










The public's response was so positive that Dagron opened a factory at Gex, on the Swiss border, just two years later. Soon he was employing more than 100 people, producing photographic miniatures known as bijoux 
photomicrography, or micro photographic  trinket', fitted into a huge range of inexpensive souvenirs containing views of personalities, resorts, and exhibitions.






Stanhope






The canny Frenchman realised that others might copy his idea once the patent expired, so he marketed Stanhope kits' to encourage anyone else who wanted to produce Stanhopes to buy the equipment and supplies from Dagron. As a result, a great variety of Stanhopes was made by various companies during the late 19th century. Business declined from the 1920s to the 60s,






although Stanhopes were still manufactured - for example, to commemorate special events such as the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953- Production eventually ceased in 1972.




Stanhope
Stanhopes were produced in the thousands, but they are relatively uncommon today because they were frequently discarded once the novelty had worn off, or left forgotten at the bottom of a drawer. Although the more commonplace Stanhopes > often appear at sales and auctions, 1 you do need to lie alert to spot one elsewhere. If you are lucky enough to discover a Stanhope at a car-boot sale or similar, the likelihood is that the vendor is unaware of the trinket special secret. Most Stanhopes are valued at much less than .£100, with only a few rarities exceeding this.





Stanhope novelties are predominantly made from bone, base metals, and silver, although plastic was usual after the 1920s. The most commonly found examples are sewing accessories, dip pens, jewellery, smoking accessories, and charms (including tiny binoculars for watch fobs). 

Stanhope
A pair of miniature bone binoculars with a view of a well-known personality might fetch £60 or more, but those with standard views of scenery may be worth as little as .£10. Cigarette holders fall into the ,£30-90 bracket, depending on the material used (metal and wooden ones are worth slightly more than plastic).
Larger items such as walking sticks are rarer and more valuable.



Stanhope
Perfume bottles with Stanhopes can fetch up to .£250. thimbles up to £400 - these higher prices can be attributed in part to additional interest from collectors of perfume bottles and sewing tools.


The most frequently found images are of tourist attractions, historic cities, and spa towns. Portraits are rarer and are thus more sought after. Events such as the 1862 London International Exhibition are also unusual and have a wide appeal.


1 comment:

  1. Hello. I am a harmonica collector and I have recently found many harmonicas made by Emil Friedel in Germany in the 1920's that have drilling for Stanhope lenses in the end of the harmonica. Only one has the actual lens. Do you know of a supply of Stanhope lenses that I could place in the harmonicas? Thank you.

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