History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search

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

Zoetrope

The Zoetrope produces the illusion of movement by viewing individual images through narrow slits in a rotating cylinder. The device was created with the name Doedaleum in 1833 by English mathematician William George Horner (1786-1837), who first described it in the London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine.

Although patents for Zoetrope-like devices were made in numerous countries from 1867, it was in the United States where William F. Lincoln patented the name Zoetrope in 1887. In England the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company sold a number of Wheel of Life or Zoetrope models.

The Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell improved Horner’s original design in 1868 by introducing concave lenses in the slits, eliminating distortion.

1. Inv. No. 80585, Zoetrope, London, c. 1867
2. Inv. No. 80585, Strips for Zoetrope, London, c. 1867

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