Monday, July 7, 2014

A furtive look back at the Seebackroscope

A look back at a novelty designed to look back.  Advertised in magazines, catalogs, and comics, these see-back scopes and glasses lack the iconic gravitas of X-ray scopes, gogs, etc., yet the basic see-back gimmick has endured for more than a century.  That makes it something other than an example of pop culture ephemera, since the concept keeps on going, with never a backward glance.  That's always the problem--disposable novelties cry out to be labeled as ephemera, but how can things that never go away be rightfully called ephemera?  Think about it!  Kind of scary, really.

I'm guessing these devices, like most novelty-ad trinkets, don't work very well.  Which is probably a good thing, since reverse vision is a liability for anyone walking forward, especially upon crossing the street, encountering stairs, approaching an open manhole, etc.  ("Wow, look at tha....  AIEEEEE!!!"  CRASH!)

Ads are from The American Boy, Fightin' Air Force (Charlton). a Greenland Studios gift catalog, U.S. Air Force (Charlton), and the May, 2014 American Science and Surplus catalog.  In that order.  Apologies for the gaps in the evolutionary record.  I'll stay on the look-back--I mean, the lookout--for more examples.



c. 1963: 




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