A Victorian went to the beach, and all we got was this peep egg
Just in time for summer vacation, we’d like to feature one of Special Collections’ newest acquisitions: an optical toy, or “peep egg.” The peep egg is small, about 4.5” high, and made out of an opaque alabaster which lets light in. Looking through the glass viewer on top reveals three small scenes of Weston-Super-Mare, a seaside town southwest of Bristol which was a popular 19th century resort destination. The scenes are mounted onto a spindle which you can rotate using the handles on the sides of the peep egg. Our peep egg also features painted pebbles which create frames for the images. It was probably sold as a seaside souvenir in the early 1840s.
Special Collections has a number of other souvenir items marketed to Victorian vacationers, such as this hand-colored panoramic view (from the 1840s) of the resort of Brighton, as well as travel guides to destinations like the Isle of Wight. They provide fascinating insights into recreation, travel, and tourism in Victorian Britain.