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Early Animation Game

Ombro-Cinéma. Illusion du Mouvement. Nouveauté Sensationnelle.

1920s French shadow theater-style animated optical game comprised of a chromolithographed cardboard and wood theater scene flanked by Charlie Chaplin's Tramp character and Charles Prince's Rigadin, the center framing a celluloid screen with imposed image of a fence with two lampposts, behind which are mounted two fixed rollers with mechanical cranks which can turn translucent paper "film" scrolls and give the appearance of movement when viewed through the celluloid screen, accompanied by two films depicting the stories of Gulliver's Travels (Voyages de Gulliver, Film No. 9) in black and white, and Little Red Riding Hood (Le Petit Chaperon Rouge, Film No. 22), with images in color. Housed in original wood and cardboard box with decorative paper covering and chromolithographed image to lid depicting a silhouette of an angry carriage driver reprimanding a young man in front of the Jardin des Tuileries, framed with the same images of Chaplin and Prince as found to the insert, and with printed instructions to underside of box lid. Box approximately 13 x 18 x 3 inches. Overall well-preserved in very good condition, some minor wear to box lid including some small areas of cracking to cover image; some fading and minor soiling, expected handling wear to decorative paper covering; minor edgewear to shadow theater; some small tears and repairs to film scrolls, Red Riding Hood scroll missing crank section on one side of scroll. Paris (Saussine) n.d. (circa 1925).

The Ombro-Cinéma toy was patented by Saussine in 1921, and six months later won a gold medal at the 19th Concours Lépine, a competition for inventors originally geared towards small toy and hardware manufacturers. 14 different "films" with twelve images each were available for this toy, ten in black and white (including Voyages de Gulliver) and four in color (including Le Petit Chaperon Rouge).

The instructions to the underside of the lid advise the use of an additional artificial light shone from behind to enhance the effect of the shadows. These instructions read: "C'est un réel amusement de voir tous ces personnages s'agiter dans les contorsions les plus drolatiques, comme s'ils étaient doués d'une vie réelle. Pour mettre toutes ces scènes comiques en mouvement, il suffit de tourner lentement et régulierement une des manivelle placées audessus du théatre. L'effet est aussi joli en plein jour qu'à la lumière artificelle, et il est même préférable, lorsqu'il, y a un lumière...vive derrière le théatre, de l'atténuer en intercalant une feuille de papier mince entre le foyer lumineux et les scènes. Les sujets parditront très nets."

A scarce and well-preserved early animation and optical illusion game; as of February 2020, WorldCat locates only a single holding in a North American library.

Book ID: 50616

Price: $3,000.00