Stanhopes and History Detectives

Last night, we caught the new episode of History Detectives. It's a fun little show on PBS where people (3 or 4 per show) bring a family treasure to the team, and they work to determine if the family stories about it are true. All three of us really enjoy it. Sadly, the stories turn out to be untrue, at least half the time. But they often are able to confirm part of the story for the family, and set the record straight.

Unfortunately, they find that stanhopes didn't really show up in the US until after the war, so it couldn't have been used when they thought. But then they find evidence that their ancestor's grandson lived in Atlanta in the 1880s, when Jefferson Davis (the investigator kept calling him Jeff Davis, urrrgh) was at the peak of his popularity in the south. (Apparently, Davis was not much respected shortly after the war, but rather blamed for the south's failure. Only later did his star rise to the point where it could be carved on a mountain. ) So, it's likely that the stanhope belonged to the grandson, or was purchased by him for the elder ancestors.

By now, you're probably asking what a stanhope is, no? It turns out it's a microphotograph viewer. They glued a tiny photo onto a tiny lense setup and inserted it into... well, just about anything. Stanhopes remind me of tiny antique versions of those little photo viewer keychains you can get at an amusement park if you're too cheap to buy a print of the photo the attack photographers snapped of you. Only they're much tinier (most of the optics would nearly fit on a penny) , and much antique-ier. The way they were built was pretty cool, and they apparently came in all sorts of varieties.

I recommend checking out this site for more info about stanhopes. Pretty cool!

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