History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

Narratives

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

Phenakistiscope

The Phenakistiscope was invented independently, and almost simultaneously, by the Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau (1801-1883) and the Austrian physicist Simon Ritter von Stampfer (1792-1864). Plateau described it in an article in 1833, but Stampfer patented a design for the Stroboscopic Disc the same year.

The name Phenakistiscope was introduced by French publisher Simon-François-Alphonse Giroux, who brought the device to market in France. In July 1833, the London publisher Rudolph Ackermann began to sell the Phenakistiscope with the name of ‘Phantasmascope’ and then ‘Fantascope’. Among the discs published by Ackermann was Plateau’s ‘The Dancer’.

The toy consists of a paper disc featuring evenly spaced, thin radial slots and a series of sequential images. When the disc is placed in a holder and rotated in front of a mirror, a single motion image is seen through the slits.

1. Inventory No. 56837-3, Phenakistiscope Disc, by R. Ackermann, London, 1833
2. Inventory No. 56837-1, Phenakistiscope Disc, by R. Ackermann, London, 1833
3. Inventory No. 13322, Phenakistiscope Disc, by T. Mc Lean, England, 19th Century (women on a swing and a servant pushing her)
4. Inventory No. 13322, Phenakistiscope Disc, by T. Mc Lean, England, 19th Century (man with a hatchet and a green dragon with a red ball)
5. Inventory No. 13323, Phenakistiscope Disc, by R. Ackermann, London, 1833
6. Inventory No. 13326, Phenakistiscope Disc, by R. Ackermann, London, 1833

Wheel of Life or Projection Phenakistiscope

The Wheel of Life, or Projection Phenakistiscope, was patented in England by Thomas Ross in 1869 and again in 1871. It was the most famous and best-selling mechanical lantern slide at this time.
The Projection Phenakistiscope uses two discs, one with sequential images, the other with a single slot through which the user views the animation. Using a pulley and handle system, the two discs turn in contra-rotation producing a motion picture on the screen.

7. Inventory No. 89921, Projection Phenakistiscope, England, c. 1870

Other narratives:

Related Objects: