Victorian Stereoscopy card, Claudet Antoine (1797-1867), ‘Lady Mary Haughton Feilden, née Jackson (1778-1867)’ © Sir Brian May at Proud Galleries London

Victorian Stereoscopy card, Claudet Antoine (1797-1867), ‘Lady Mary Haughton Feilden, née Jackson (1778-1867)’

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© The Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy
Digital archival fine art print hand signed by Sir Brian May
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Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity

Initially, this appears to be a simple, or even a dull image, presumably of an elderly upper-class housewife sitting at home on a rocking chair. While this is technically correct, Lady Feilden, as well as several members of her family, were all very politically active in the realm of civil rights, hinted at by the Beecher desk that she sit in front of.

Born in or about 1779, Mary Haughton Jackson was the eldest daughter of Edmund Jackson of Southfield in Lancashire and Woodlands, Jamaica. On 30 March 1797 she married William Feilden of Wilton Hall in Blackburn. Her husband set up his business in the Blackburn cotton industry with his older brothers Henry and John, becoming a merchant, cotton manufacturer, and pioneer of the factory system. In 1848, his firm had 1,400 employees and due to his local prominence, he played a leading role in Blackburn’s public life, acting as Blackburn’s MP from 1832 to 1847.

Lady Feilden's husband and her mother, Catherine Jackson, both made claims for compensation from the British government when slavery was abolished in the British Empire. Her mother was awarded £1161. Her husband unsuccessfully claimed £3401 as compensation for 187 slaves. Lady Feilden died at her residence on 9 January 1867, where her estate was valued at £8,000.

Some time in 1854, at 313 Oxford Street, the 'London Stereoscope Company' was born, and under the leadership of Managing Partner George Swan Nottage, by 1856 the company had changed its name, to 'The London Stereoscopic Company”' and finally in May 1859 assumed the name it was to retain for years to come: the 'London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company'.

Their business was selling stereo views and viewers to the public, and they were leaders in a boom – a craze - which swept England, Europe, and eventually the United States too, of stereo photographs of every conceivable subject, which, viewed by means of a stereoscope, presented scenes in life-like three dimensions. In a world which had never experienced Television, the Movies, or the Internet, this was understandably a revelation. In February 1856, the London Stereoscopic Company (LSC) advertised, in the Photographic Journal, 'The largest collection in Europe, upwards of 10,000' stereo views.

Much of the workings of the LSC in its early years is still shrouded in mystery, and the relationship it had with the pioneering photographers whose work it published remains unclear, but the company was evidently at a peak of production by the end of the 1850s; today’s collections of the finest cards from this period by James Elliott, Alfred Silvester, Mark Anthony, Charles Goodman, and many others always contain large numbers of examples bearing the familiar blindstamps of the LSC. In the 1860s, one of the LSC’s notable publications of stereo cards was a long series depicting the interior of the 1862 International Exhibition, in what is now Exhibition Road, South Kensington.

All Queen and Victorian fine art prints are selected and hand-signed by Sir Brian May, and are accompanied by a gallery Certificate of Authenticity, a London Stereoscopic Company’s Queen stereo card pack and a Lite Owl Viewer, designed by Brian May.

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