The Praxinoscope is a typical optical toy from the 19th century. It consists of a
cylinder and a strip of paper showing twelve frames for animation. As the cylinder
rotates, stationary mirrors in the centre reveal a ‘single image’ in motion.
The Praxinoscope was invented in 1876 by Charles-Émile Reynaud (1844-1918), a
Paris science teacher, who marked all his examples ‘E.R.’. The toy became a great
commercial success and won recognition at the great exhibitions of the period.

What’s in a name?

Like so many of its competitors,
the Praxinoscope had a fancy
classical name. It was formed
from the ancient Greek πρᾶξις
[praxis], meaning ‘action’, plus
σκοπεῖν [scopein], meaning ‘to
look at’.

Introduction | Phenakistiscope | Thaumatrope | Zoetrope | Choreutoscope| Praxinoscope | Flip Books

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