Grandpa Monks’ 1920s Camerascope

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My grandpa’s Camerascope and a box of stereoscopic images on Army Cut cigarette cards takes me to other lands circa 1928-1929.

Let’s look at Grandpa Monks’ old “Camerascope”, which he got on his December 1928 – April 1929 trip back home to Earlestown, Lancashire.

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The Camerascope (produced in 1927 by Cavanders Ltd) was used to view stereoscopic views printed on cigarette cards, found in boxes of Army Cut Cigarettes. Harold, an avid smoker, easily amassed a collection of these miniature “Peeps Into Many Lands”, two cards in a pack (left and a right image).

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For the price of 1/- (a shilling or “bob”) Harold obtained a Cavanders Ltd brand camerascope. He either sent to the London office, or more likely got one from a local agent, perhaps Thomason’s camera shop in Earlestown, where he got photos developed (the cigarette cards are stored in film envelopes).

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The “Peeps” show a fascinating world-gone-by — snake charmers in Bombay, “natives” on the Irrawady, Burma, ancient kimoned ladies walking through the Torii gates in Kyoto, Javanese Boats, Batavia (Indonesia) and the “The Mosque of El-Aksa, Palestine”.

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Harold returned (with Camerascope) to Tofino in spring 1929, and a few months later met new schoolteacher Katie Hacking, who he would later marry. The Camerascope got a new lease of life in the late 1940s, when my Mom and Uncle Harold played with them.  There are a few “hand tinted” photos, clearly done by kids. There’s even an attempt (possibly by Harold, who was an avid boy photographer) at a stereoscope image of my Mom — her clothes painted in bright colours!

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Learn more about Harold on the Family History Stories page

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