South African War Through the Stereoscope


South African War Through the Stereoscope


Stereoscope technology was developed to experiment with binocular vision, and later became a popular tool for both entertainment and instruction. Stereographs seen through the stereoscope offered such a convincing illusion of three-dimensional reality that some commentators, like the American doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes, suggested that “form is henceforth divorced from matter.” In his article entitled “The Stereoscope and the Stereograph,” published in 1859, he went on to explain that “matter as a visible object is of no great use any longer, except as the mould on which form is shaped. Give us a few negatives of a thing worth seeing taken from different points of view, and that is all we want of it.” 

This series of stereocards portraying the South African War, also known as the Boer War, informed viewers of world events while also offering a visual spectacle. These stereographs can be compared to other examples of war photography created earlier, like Roger Fenton’s photographs of the Crimean War from 1855, and later, during the world wars of the twentieth century or the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

Materials relating to the Boer War are included in the Sir Samuel Steele Collection at Bruce Peel Special Collections, which also includes photographs. For more information about this particular series of stereocards published by Underwood & Underwood, see "
Anglo-Boer War: Stereo Photographs produced by Underwood & Underwood."


Underwood & Underwood (photographer)


8.8 x 17.7 cm
DT 930 S72


set with sample 72dpi.jpg
c recto 72dpi.jpg
c verso 72dpi.jpg
d recto 72dpi.jpg
d verso 72dpi.jpg
e recto 72dpi.jpg
e verso 72dpi.jpg
f recto 72dpi.jpg
f verso 72dpi.jpg
complete set 72dpi.jpeg
container 72dpi.jpeg


Underwood & Underwood (photographer), “South African War Through the Stereoscope,” Bruce Peel Special Collections Library Online Exhibits, accessed September 26, 2023,

Output Formats