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British instrument maker and inventor John B. Dancer is considered the father of microphotography. In 1852, he discovered by affixing a reversed microscope lens to a camera, he was able to produce a full-size picture occupying only 1/16th of an inch.
Often capturing larger subjects, such as paintings or landscapes, he would then expose the image onto a wet-plate creating a microscopic photo.
However, once French photographer and inventor René Dagron caught wind of Dancer's work, he decided to take the microscopic image to a new level.
Unhappy with having to use a microscope to see Dancer's micro-pictures Dagron invented a simple, lightweight modified Stanhope lens to easily view them.
He began using his micro images and modified lens in small novelty items and jewelry. In 1862, he took his novelty Stanhope viewers to London and presented them to Queen Victoria.
During the 1870-1871 Franco-Prussian War, Dagron used his microfilming process to carry thousands of messages and even newspaper pages by carrier pigeon across German lines. His images were so small and lightweight a single pigeon could carry up to 20 messages at a time. His image would then be projected onto a wall using a magic lantern and transcribed.
René Dagron died June 13, 1900, but his invention lived on well into the 20th century.
A popular souvenir, many Stanhopes feature images of European castles and landscapes. They were often used to house religious devotions and prayers.
But what is a fun novelty without a little lechery?
In the late Victorian period and well into the 1930s, cheeky men's rings were made featuring risqué images of women.
A small lens is inconspicuously placed at the shoulder of the ring and when you place it close to your eye, the image appears.
This particular ring is likely from the cusp of the 1910s to 1920s. It features a lovely Art Deco geometric pattern with a large paste glass rhinestone perfectly seated atop the ring.
The micro image is of a stunning nude woman reaching upward. This ring is particularly rare because many of the images found in these rings the women are often partially covered.
While this ring is on the larger side and would make an exciting and unusual gift for your loved one, it can also be worn on a necklace chain as a fun novelty item to impress your friends!
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