‘PEEPS’, ‘SECRET PICTURE CURIOS’, ‘STANHOPES’
These are all alternative names for the same type of souvenir
gift product. Pick up one of these fascinating Collectables, find the
tiny hole or circle, place it very close to your eye and peep through
the centre. You will see a picture, multiple picture or text, celebrating
a person, place or event, between 1860 and the present day.
WOODSETTON PEEP COLLECTABLES
Manufacture of the original Victorian ‘Stanhope’ Peepers
had died out by the 1960s, but were researched and then revived in the
1980s by Woodsetton Designworks of Dudley, England.
Each Collectable item features a new lens to a more complex optical
layout which was designed and patented by David Bates in 1984. This
hollow lens is made from optical plastic, and magnifies the microdot
transparency picture inside it, about 100 times. These are easily distinguishable
from the original glass rod ‘Stanhope’ lenses, being nearly
twice the diameter (5.5mm)and showing a black disk with the tiny viewing
hole in the centre.
Assembly of the lenses has to be done extremely carefully. The microdot
picture is cut out and inserted into the lens by hand, and must be kept
very clean during this process. The most popular current ‘Woodsetton
Peeps’ are illustrated on this website, but some early one-off
and limited edition pieces are now much sought after by collectors.
COLLECTORS‘ PEEP THIMBLES.
Just a few were made in China, Horn and Sterling Silver, whilst others
in pewter, silverplated copper and enamelled, brass are still made today.
Many of the latter type are inscribed with appropriate titles, or Personalised
with, perhaps the Baptism Prayer or Wedding Vows inside, and with appropriate
names and date inscribed on the outside.
A comprehensive history of the ‘Stanhope’ lenses of Victorian
times can be found on the Website of Jean Scott on www.stanhopes.info