Stereoscope Owned by the Lincoln Children

Image of Stereoscope owned by the Lincoln children.
Nineteenth century educational toy

Mr. Lincoln is often only thought of as the President, but in Illinois, he was also a husband and father who was known to spoil his little boys. Mr. Lincoln also had an interest in technology. These traits came together in Mr. Lincoln’s purchase of a stereoscope for his sons. The stereoscope allowed for viewing on two sides and cost approximately $18-20, the equivalent of a laborer’s monthly wages. Stereocards slipped into a rotating card holder, allowing the viewers to see humorous scenes from plays or books or exotic locales like the pyramids in Egypt or the U.S. capitol being built in Washington, DC. Most cards had information about the image on the back, making it both fun and educational. This combination of toy, educational tool, and technology gives us insight into the Lincolns’ interest in their boys’ well-being, which was unusual for a time when children were expected to be seen and not heard.