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girls The earliest photograph of Portsmouth dates to the 1840s. Long before Brownies, Instamatics, Polaroids and digital cameras -- even before postcards -- there were photographs and tourists willing to buy them. Lewis and Charles Davis were among the first photographers to set up shop in Portsmouth. They recorded thousands of images from 1856-1903 and sold them as heavy-backed "studio" cards and double-imaged stereoscopic cards. The Davis brothers' collection, archived at the Portsmouth Athenaeum, is one of the best existing records of the Seacoast in the Victorian era.

Few homes in the 19th century were without an affordable stereoscopic viewer that presented a "3D" vision of popular scenes. Over 160 of these images from the Davis collection have been published in "Around Portsmouth in the Victorian Era." This sampling includes historic houses, the nearby navy yard, the Isles of Shoals, historic houses, downtown and family scenes. A dozen of the best photos are republished below. (JDR)

Also in our Early Photo Series:

  • 1886 Ice Storm
  • Attractive Bits Along the Shore
  • Gosport Harbor, 1860s
  • Hampton and Hampton Beach
  • Old Dover Scrapbook
  • "Old Ironsides"
  • "Old Town by the Sea"
  • Victorian Portsmouth

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    Stereoscopic Links
    For more information on stereoscopic photography in America, click here. These links are outside, so press BACK to return to this site.

  • The Victorian 3D Society
  • Info on Stereo Cameras
  • Pictures of 1906 Earthquake
  • History of Stereoscopic Photography
  • Stereoscopic Views of the 19th Century
       (includes lots of pictures, links, info)
  • The 3D Web
  • NH's Kiburn Brothers, 1860
       (sold millions of stereocards!)
  • National Sterescopic Assoc.

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    Victorian Portsmouth Gallery
    Click on the thumbnails for larger photo and caption. All images from "Around Portsmouth in the Victorian Era" by James Dolph and Ronan Donohoe, Arcadia Publications, Dover, NH 1997. All images courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum. May not be used without permission.

    Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
    Image 4 Image 5 Image 6
    Image 7 Image 8 Image 9
    Image 10 Image 11 Image 12

    All photos courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum from "Around Portsmouth in the Victorian Era," Arcadia Publishing, 1997. Use only with permission.

    Content and page design:
    © 1997 All rights reserved.

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    book cover Buy the Book

    Seacoast Books

    Around Portsmouth in the Victorian Era
    Images of America Series
    By James Dolph
    and Ronan Donohoe
    Arcadia Publications, 1997
    Dover NH (128 pages)

    Click here to e-mail the Portsmouth Athenaeum and request an order form by mail. The price is $16.99 plus postage.

    © 1997

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