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Book Review: A Village Lost & Found

In a bit of a break from the Photoshop related content usually found on TipSquirrel.com, but still in the realm of vintage photographs in which I’m known to dwell, I offer to you, today, a peek at a book which I am totally in love with!

Are you always on the lookout for that special gift for someone who loves all things photography? Do you know someone who has a fascination with antique photography and photographic methods? Are you, yourself, enamored by   vintage photographs? Do you love history? Do you love books? How about a great mystery solved? Are you perhaps a bit of a Rock ‘N’ Roll lover? If you’ve answered yes to any or all of these, have I got something for you!

How can any one thing incorporate all of the aforementioned attributes? If that something is an enchanting book on a venerable photographic technique called stereography, specifically on a collection of stereo pictures taken by a master of early photography, of a village whose identity had been lost to time and, well, there you go! But, where does the Rock ‘N’ Roll part come in? One of the authors of this book, who’s 30 year fascination with stereo photographs culminated in this exquisite tome, is Brian May, the awe-inspiring guitarist of Queen – actually, that hasn’t got a thing to do with the book, or this review; it’s just my personal geekiness showing.

Geekiness notwithstanding, Mr. May, along with his co-author Elena Vidal, gives us what he calls a picture book, and it is, and so much more. The focus of the book is Thomas Richard (T.R.) Williams 1856 series of stereo photographs, “Scenes In Our Village”, and it gives us a glimpse into the life and times of a rural village in 1850’s England. The series, 59 views of the original series plus variants, were a labor of love for Williams, showing life in the village where he grew up and where his first born son, as well as two other of his children, is buried. The name and location of the actual village was lost until the authors, with the help of a quaint little village church and the internet, were able to determine the location as being Hinton Waldrist in Oxfordshire. To further solidify the identification, the book includes present-day photos taken of many of the locations pictured in the original cards. Also included is a brief history of stereo photography, in depth annotated studies of each of the series (with variants, about 78 photos in all), a biography of T.R. Williams, an overview of the type of camera he used and the technique he employed and even a lesson on how to take stereo pictures with your  own camera!

Each stereo card in the original series, plus the variants, is given two pages, many of which include a large single (or half) view of the scene, the aforementioned “now” views, and verses written by T.R. Williams that were printed on the back of the original cards.

In addition to all the detective work, research and love the authors put into this book, they, along with others, gathered together to accumulate and preserve a complete set of this series, so important  to the history of photography. For this alone I would love them!

As if the book itself wasn’t enough, there’s even more! There’s an ingenious folding stereo viewer, called the Owl, designed by Brian May, included with the book. The 240page hardback book and the viewer, in its own slipcase, are packaged in a handsome slip cover, perfect for setting on a coffee table in a place of honor. So, when you’re trying to think of the perfect gift for the photographer, vintage photo enthusiast, history lover or even just someone who appreciates beautiful books, this volume is sure to please!

*All photos used are copyright of The London Stereoscopic Company Ltd © 2008 and Brian May. All rights reserved.

Where you can get a copy

Book Cover


Amazon.co.uk £20.98

Amazon.fr EUR 35,20

Amazon.de EUR 30,95

About Janine Smith (114 Articles)
Janine Smith is the owner of Landailyn Research and Restoration, a Fort Worth, Texas based company whose services include family history research and photo restoration. Janine honed her skills in restoring badly damaged photos as a volunteer with Operation Photo Rescue, a non-profit organization whose mission is to repair photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as house fires and natural disasters. <br> Janine’s work is well-known in the world of genealogical and historical societies, museums, libraries, university archives, and non-profit organizations; appearing on the board of directors for several organizations and institutions. She is a sought-after lecturer on photo restoration and preservation to libraries, genealogical and historical societies. <br> In addition to being a Lynda.com author, Janine is the author of many articles on research and restoration appearing in newspapers and magazines, both on and offline. Janine's history and photo restoration columns appear regularly on TipSquirrel.com and in the popular Shades Of The Departed Digital Magazine. <br> Janine is the winner of the 2010 “Photoshop User Award” in the photo-restoration category.

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