History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

Exhibition Label : Fancy Names & Fun Toys (Nov 2012 - Jan 2013)

Praxinoscope

The Praxinscope was invented in 1876, and patented the following year, by Charles-Émile Reynaud (1844-1918), a Paris-based science teacher. He signed all his Praxinoscopes with the mark ‘E.R.’ and the toy became a great commercial success.

The device consists of a cylinder which holds a prepared strip of paper containing twelve frames for animation. Around the hub of the cylinder are twelve mirrors. As the cylinder rotates on, these central mirrors remain stationary, allowing the sequence of images to pass rapidly in front of each mirror. Looking into any one of the mirrors reveals a ‘single image’ in motion. A candlestick with a lampshade should be placed on top of the smaller cylinder, although these are missing here.

The Praxinoscope surmounted some of the problems of the Zoetrope, such as distortion and loss of brightness of the images. Reynaud also invented the Praxinoscope-Théâtre, in 1879, where characters seemed to move against a backdrop, and the Projection-Praxinoscope, in 1880, which projected moving images onto a background screen with the help of a modified Magic Lantern.

In 1879, the English naturalist William Bernhard Tegetmeier (1816–1912) mounted in a Praxinoscope Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs from ‘The Paces of a Horse’ and the movement of the horses was perfect. This strip is extremely rare: only three copies in addition to this are known to have survived.

1. Inv. No. 78782, Praxinoscope, by Emile Reynaud, France, c. 1877
2. Inv. No. 78782, Strips for Praxinoscope, by Emile Reynaud, France, c. 1877
3. Inv. No. 13320, Envelope for Praxinoscope, by Emile Reynaud, France, c. 1877
4. Inv. No. 13332, Strip for Praxinoscope, by W. B. Tegetmeier, England, 1879
This strip is extremely rare: only three copies in addition to this are known to have survived.

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