Peep show card

A peep show card is a special type of copperplate engraving made to be looked at in a peep show miniature theatre or box. The peep show card was particularly widespread in the 18th century and was used, like a morality play, to amuse and educate the populace. The scenes represented usually depicted views of cities, current and historic events, curiosities and oddities, heavenly portents, fireworks, biblical and mythological subjects and the like. Beneath the representations, which are usually colorfully tinted, is a brief explanatory text, often polyglot, serving to put the viewer into the picture as to what the show was all about. Above the representation is a mirror-image superscript. The engraved or, in the 19th century, increasingly lithographed cards were placed in a peep show box against a dark background. Cut-out sections, representing windows, fire, fireworks, etc, were backed with glossy paper or thin colored paper and illuminated with candles. The viewer looked through a glass lens at this very effectively presented representation. Peep show cards were made in large numbers in the latter half of the 18th century. There were printers in Italy, Holland and France apart from Augsburg who specialised in this type of often delightful vernacular infotainment.