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Waterston, David & Burnet | The Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Anatomy. New Edition.

  • The complete Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Anatomy, the first publication of stereoscopic images for the study of anatomy. A new edition, probably the second, published sometime in the decade after the first edition of 1905-1906. Together with a contemporary stereoscopic viewer.

    Stereoscopy takes advantage of humans’ binocular vision – two eyes spaced slightly apart to create depth perception – to create the illusion of three-dimensionality from two-dimensional photographs taken at slightly different angles. The earliest stereoscopes were invented during the 1830s by Sir Charles Wheatstone, and during the 1850s simpler and more economical models were developed, most notably the one designed by Oliver Wendell Holmes. This device contained two prismatic lenses in the eyepiece, which was connected to an adjustable wood or metal card holder. The accessibility of the Holmes stereoscope made stereoscopy a popular medium for both parlour entertainment and education.

    The first publication of stereoscopic images for the study of anatomy was by the Scottish physician Daniel John Cunningham (1850-1909), whose Stereoscopic Studies of Anatomy Published under Authority of the University of Edinburgh appeared in 1905 and had as one of its co-authors David Waterstone (Rubio, “Stereoscopy in Surgical Neuroanatomy: Past, Present, and Future”, Operative Neurosurgery, Vol. 18, Issue 2, February 2020). Cunningham died in 1909, and Waterstone went on to republish the atlas as The Edinburgh Stereoscopic Atlas of Anatomy. In 1919 he prepared a greatly expanded edition comprising 324 photographs in ten volumes. The present example is undated but, given the above timeline, was probably published sometime in the years between 1909 and 1918. It comes with a contemporary, and fully-functional, Holmes-style viewer which works with the cards but is not original to the set.

    Together with a contemporary stereoscope. Edinburgh: [T. C. & E. C. Jack], [c. 1909-1918].
  • 250 printed cards, each with a stereoscopic photographic print pasted at the bottom. Housed in 5 cloth cases with printed title and contents labels. Wood, metal and glass stereoscopic viewer, manufactured in Britain circa 1900-1920. Stereoscopic cards slightly curved from upright storage, occasional dampstain or spotting to the card portions. Some wear at the edges of the boxes, darkening and some loss affecting the paper labels. A very good set.