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Optical toy - The Kinora

The Kinora

  • Object:

    Optical toy

  • Place of origin:

    England (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1885-1910 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wood, metal and glass

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Museum of Childhood, Moving Toys Gallery, case 20

A Kinora, is in effect a giant flicker book. Many photographs are bound together on the reel, each one slightly different. When the handle is turned the images flick over and, seen in rapid succession, give the impression of a moving picture. This is the effect of the phenomenon known as 'persistence of vision', whereby the eye briefly retains the memory of an image. Kinora reels have about 600 pictures and turning at a speed of about 10 pictures per second, they last about a minute. The Kinora was one of the domestic versions of the mutascope a paying device usually found in amusement arcades and on seaside piers at the beginning of the twentieth century. These are sometimes known as 'What the Butler Saw' machines.

Physical description

A shaped rectangular base of polished wood with inlaid decoration. Hinged at one end is a wooden arm to which is mounted a metal viewer with two glass lenses. The metal is embossed with the words The Kinora and is decorated with stylised flowers. The wooden arm can be propped up and there is an attachment for a circular reel of photographs. There is a handle to the side which when turned flicks the photographs.

Place of Origin

England (manufactured)


1885-1910 (manufactured)



Materials and Techniques

Wood, metal and glass

Marks and inscriptions

The Kinora patented throughout the world Bond's Ltd 138 New Bond Street
Embossed on a circular metal disc on the hinged arm


Length: 34 cm, Width: 16 cm, Height: 29 cm when propped up

Descriptive line

Wood and metal Kinora viewing device made in England between 1885 and 1910


Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys

Production Type

Mass produced


Museum of Childhood

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