Friday, 12 February 2010

It's just an illusion

I'm sure you've all seen a kaleidoscope before and I wrote about thaumatropes here but what a a zoetrope or a praxinoscope?

Inspired by my recent visit to the film museum in Paris and the wonderful exhibition on magic lanterns, painted film and 400 years of cinema, I've been looking for some of examples of optical toys and early forms of animation.

Detail of a magic lantern slide - The magic lantern and bear showman, Lapierre, circa 1850

Animation is a fascinating subject. I have a few magic lantern slides and flick books at home but nothing quite as beautiful as these shadow cards

or these mechanical slides

I'd love to start collecting zoetrope and phenakitiscope disks like these (there are some absolutely beautiful ones in the exhibition).

The V&A's Childhood Museum is a reliable source of information if you're interested in finding out more about early animation techniques and can't get to Paris to see the magic lantern exhibition. All of these examples above came from François Binetruy's Orangerie antique shop in Versailles. François has been collecting items for over 40 years and has acquired some amazing pieces, which he has put on line here. Go and explore his site, it really is a treasure trove for lovers of vintage toys and all things animation-related.

à suivre...


  1. those are pretty cool. i remember making my own flip books as a kid too. they were always fun!


  2. Aren't they fabulous? Great examples :) K

  3. superbe post!
    ces objets sont incroyables!

  4. I;m reading Swann's Way right now and Proust talks a lot about how his magic lantern was his night time entertainment. I knew of the lantern; it is interesting to read about it's relatives. And the V&A! I want to live there. Sleep in the Bed of Ware and wander it's halls all day, everyday. I love that museum above all others!

  5. Great stuff thanks.
    (btw, your blog link in twitter profile is borked)

  6. These are fabulous...I've been designing a thaumatrope but haven't printed it yet. This is inspiring me to put it on the press! Thanks!


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