Sunday, July 24, 2011

Over a Barrel - Antique Stanhope Jewelry

In my never ending quest for antique and vintage jewelry, I am always amazed by the treasures that are out there. A few years back, I discovered the wonderful world of Stanhopes. Very popular during the Victorian era. Without going into great detail...Tiny images are adhered to a polished glass rod. This enables the viewer to look at microscopic images without using a microscope. When holding one of these amazing trinkets to the light and looking through the tiny peep hole, you are able to view the tiny images!
This technique was invented in France by Rene Dragon in 1857. He combined microphotographs and the use of the Stanhope lens to produce his images. The Stanhope lens was invented by Charles, 3rd Earl Stanhope. Microphotography was invented in 1839 by John Benjamin Dancer. Dragon's technique resulted in what are known today as Stanhopes. Long story short...He was able to produce tiny photographic trinkets that were sold as souvenirs in places such as Niagara Falls. Also these tiny images were used for "naughty" or "risque" purposes. Men would wear Stanhope rings and fobs with images of nude women. For shame! Is that where we get the words "peep show" from? Just a thought.

Not really sure how I was able to get this shot...but I did! This is a close up look into a Victorian barrel Stanhope. You can see the tiny image on the end of the glass rod. When held to the light you can see four different views of Niagara Falls! It is amazing!

This is a gorgeous example of a antique Victorian binocular Stanhope charm, courtesy of Pinguim antique and vintage jewelry on Etsy.

This is a beautiful French example of a carved ivory Stanhope case, courtesy of Pinguim antique and vintage jewelry on Etsy. It would have once held a Stanhope.

In this photo you can see the glare off of the end of the glass rod.

My "duh" moment came after a while of searching for Stanhopes. Why all of the barrel shapes? Duh...Niagara Falls...people going over the falls in barrels. Oh! OK! I get it now. :) Actually, you can find Stanhopes in many forms. As you can see from Pinguim's examples, spyglasses and binoculars were popular. There are crosses that have Stanhopes with the Lord's Prayer. I even had a Bible Stanhope from my childhood! Yes, from a bubblegum machine. It also had the Lord's Prayer inside. So do a little Google search on Stanhopes. You will be amazed...and probably hooked for life...just like me! :)

Many thanks to
Pinguim on Etsy. Her shop is filled with amazing antique and vintage jewelry! So be sure to visit her fabulous shop!
Happy collecting!

Don't forget to visit my shop
Wicked Darling. I am having my annual Christmas in July Sale. All of my items have been reduced by 15%. If you follow me here, and use the coupon code
WDBLOGFREESHIPPING during checkout, you will get free shipping on your purchases in my shop. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Thanks for dropping by...and I have a feeling this is going to become one of my most favorite blogs! Incredible first page...going back for more - and yes, Frampton KICKS ASS! Probably one of the best (and I have seen LOTS) I've seen these past two years! Have a great weekend - Tanya

  2. Tanya,

    I love your blog! And I agree...Frampton is the best of the best!!! OK...Now I have "Show Me the Way" going through my head...but that's a good thing!!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and I am glad that you like it! :)

    Have a great week!
    Pam :)