Carlo Ponti Highly Carved and Ebonized Walnut Megalethoscope and Table, c. 1865-70, the viewer with carved floral and stippled designs throughout, four panels carved in high relief with Venetian noblemen, two of the panels hinged, with interior mounted mirrors (or looking glasses) for light reflection, at the rear of the viewer there is a serpentine iron cradle that controls the rotation of the viewer, curved track to accept the 12 x 16 views, the hinged rear door houses an illustrated instructional manual in English under a glass plate; with two turned handles mounted at the front of the viewer to work an interior cradle that houses the large 5 x 7-in. magnifier lens, accessible from a top hinged panel, used for focusing; the viewer rests on a conforming base with four turned legs; the table with carved busts of lions on each leg terminating in hairy paw feet, carved images on each table panel, the table back depicting a gondola, object right depicting the Rialto Bridge in Venice, the other carved with a Roman galleon, the two front hinged panels open to reveal curved sections to house the stereoviews, a low-relief border on the top of the table encloses a gray oyster shell marble slab; including forty-five original photographs of European cities, wd. 41 1/2, dp. 27, ht. with viewer 56 in.
Note: Carlo Ponti was the optician to King Victor Emanuel II of Italy, and designed a large scale optical viewer in 1862 called a Megalethoscope, it allowed his photographs of famous European landscapes and architectural views to be viewed through the device that housed a glass plate magnifier.
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