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The Great War in Stereoviews

Underwood & Underwood

Underwood & Underwood cards printed in England have a distinctive appearance. Cards in English sets often included sequence numbers, but usually lacked image numbers. Occasionally English sets included cards with image numbers and typical American markings (described under the American part of Underwood & Underwood), but these may have been printed in the USA.

Underwood World War sets were named "War of the Nations," and this name appeared on individual cards as well as boxes for the sets. Early English cards were marked in a plain font with the company name at left and "Commercial & Stereoscopic Photographers" instead of  the set name. More commonly, Underwood WWI cards had an ornate left side marking and the set name in plain font at right. Reversed markings are common and cards with the company logo on both sides are known.

Early Marking (Left)

Early Marking (Right)

Standard Font Used 1916 and Later (Left) Standard Font Used 1916 and Later (Right)

  There were at least two different War of the Nations sets of at least 100 cards, arbitrarily called Sets A and B. Neither set is complete. Cards with sequence numbers not matching cards in either set and a large group of unnumbered cards suggest there were at least two other sets. Both identified sets included postwar views, but wartime sets may exist. Set B had 82 ordinary war cards plus a subset entitled "London's Great Peace March," which accounted for at least 16 cards. The organization of the two sets is similar, although only 21 cards were in common.

SUBJECT SET A (100) SET B (100) COMMON CARDS
War Leaders 4 4 3
Wounded 2 3 0
Zeppelins 3 1 1
Navy 13 23 5
Western Front 41 20 5
Allies 1 7 2
Artillery 9 3 2
Tanks and Tractors 9 2 1
Overseas Theaters 13 6 1
War's End 2 17 (inc. Peace March subset) 1
Miscellaneous 3 3 0

Total: 

100 89 21

War of the Nations Sets:    Title List A    Title List B    Title List London Peace March

Unlike Realistic Travels, Underwood & Underwood had extensive coverage of continental armies in their stereoview sets. In both their American and British sets, they relied upon file photos from the Russo-Japanese War for several of the cards showing Russian troops.

In terms of subject matter, Underwood & Underwood stereoviews appear markedly inferior to those produced by Realistic Travels, but that may be because of the small number and small size of English Underwood & Underwood sets identified to date. High-interest categories such as aviation, tanks, and artillery have minimal or nonexistent coverage. A strength is the postwar period, with excellent coverage of the surrender of the German U-Boats and High Seas Fleet in November 1918, and of the London Peace March in July 1919.

In 1921, when Underwood & Underwood sold the rights to its stereographic library to Keystone View Company in the United States, it may have sold some of its English views to Realistic Travels. One Realistic Great War set included an Underwood Boer War card with a Realistic-style sequence number, and an Underwood box remarked as a Realistic Travels box is known.

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