Stanhopes- a vintage view- frozen in time

When I first started collecting charms I had no idea what a stanhope was. For anyone in that condition it is a small lens with a picture in it- so small you have to hold it up to light to see it.

These were made from around the end of the 1800’s and put into charms, or rosaries or cane handles or rings or….? The charms are usually scenic views of places that were collected as souvenirs, the rings and stickpins often are risque photos, but we won’t deal with those here- only the charms.

Stanhope charms are made in many styles and materials- almost anything you can drill a hole in to insert the stanhope lens. There are churches and bibles with the lord’s prayer, 10 commandments or wedding vows (I’m looking for a gold church that is mechanical with the wedding vows for my 20th anniversary if anyone has one) there are all kinds of buildings from the White House to the capitol of any state or country- with views of same, plus of course the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty with NYC skylines. The most common probably is the trolley car with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Niagara Falls is generally in a barrel- carved stone if old enough, and I really love the arts and crafts home with ‘Home Sweet Home’ and a child inside.

There are cameras with photos of pin up girls, movie cameras with movie posters and televisions with anything from stars (the human kind) to Hollywood or NYC. London Bridge has the tower, Easter eggs have bunnies, my Washington Monument has 5 views of DC- well, you get the idea.

They are murder for a seller to get a picture of, and heaven to find at a sale where the owner doesn’t know there’s a picture inside.

There are 2 studios that do modern ones, so if you find (as we too often do) a stanhope-less one with only a hole where the lens used to be- or the picture long destroyed by sun or water, you can have a replacement made. I have a golden church with my wedding photo. But beware- they forget to tell you that these are so delicate that if you turn them at all you can break the picture, so decide which side is up before you insert them, then enjoy.


  1. ‘A golden church with your wedding photo’ sounds wonderful. So you can have an actual modern photograph turned into a Stanhope? I’m sure we’d all love to see a photo of it if you can take one?

  2. i’ll try but you know how difficult it is to get a good photo of the inside of a stanhope. yes you can email
    and they can make you a stanhope of any photo you send them- a wonderful anniversary gift etc.
    or go to the search on this page and search the web for stanhope charms- i know there’s at least one other business that does it- i can only speak for the quality of stanhope microworks though.

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