Group of twelve mid-19th century hand-colored engraved illustrated phenakistoscope discs on cardstock (four double-sided), seven bearing figural illustrations and the other five with geometric or botanical designs, together with a cast iron phenakistoscope, an early optical illusion or animation device, the discs meant to be placed on the phenakistoscope and spun, providing the illusion of movement or animation, with the images depicting including a harlequin dancing, a man on horseback, a butterfly on a flower, a woman pulling a man's hair, a man chopping wood, a woman fighting with an umbrella on a windy day, and a man playing a guitar. Illustrated discs approximately 7 inches in diameter, phenakistoscope approximately 11-1/2 inches high. Some scattered soiling and staining, overall very good, scope missing wooden handle and possibly other parts? N.p. (likely Germany or Austria) n.d. (circa 1840).
The phenakistoscope was invented in 1833 by Joseph Plateau, using the principle of the persistence of vision to create an illusion of motion. It is considered by many to be the earliest true animation device, and was a predecessor of the zoetrope and of modern cinema. Although credit is often given to Plateau, Simon von Stampfer was working on an almost identical idea in Austria at the same exact time.
The phenakistoscope functions by attaching vertically to a handle an illustrated disc on which a series of pictures are drawn, which correspond to frames of the animation. A second thick cardboard disc has a series of raidal slits cut in it to view the images through. As the discs are spun, the user sees a rapid succession of images which appear to be in motion. Another variant of the phenakistoscope had radial slits cut in the illustrated discs themselves. The user would spin the disc and view the series of moving images in the reflection of a mirror. The phenakistoscope was a popular Victorian parlor toy and often marketed for children. It was soon mass-produced and marketed under more easily-pronounceable names, including Phantasmascope, Fantoscope, and Magic Wheel.
Book ID: 50130