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Stereoscopic Cards in Early 20th Century Dermatologic Education

Jonathan Kantor, MD, MSCE, MA1,2
[+] Author Affiliations
1Department of Dermatology, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
2Florida Center for Dermatology, P.A., St Augustine
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(4):374. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3207.
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Dermatologic education has made great strides over the past 2 centuries, as a formal didactic framework has replaced the apprenticeship-based system of the past. Even today, academic dermatologists struggle to remain up to date with the latest educational trends, from wearable technology to social media.1

In the mid-19th century, as the still-novel technology of photography was increasingly becoming a part of daily life, a new—seemingly revolutionary—approach to visualizing images came onto the scene: stereoscopy. Taking advantage of the slightly different perspective of each eye based on the interpupillary distance, and stereopsis, the impression of depth that is appreciated when an object is examined with both eyes, this technology allowed the viewer to use a handheld device to examine 2 slightly discordant images, creating a single, 3-dimensional view of an image. The technology that would later make the View-master popular led to a burgeoning interest in stereoscopic images; indeed, Victorian “stereomania” led to automated stereoscopes, cabinet stereoscopes, and a burgeoning market in stereoscopic images for entertainment, and later educational, purposes.2

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Rainforth’s Stereoscopic Skin Clinic

This set of 128 stereoscopic cards and a Holmes stereoscope was first published in 1910. Photograph courtesy of Bella Kantor.

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