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The Thaumatrope, an Optic Wonder

Thaumatrope
ca. 1850 (published)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The thaumatrope was a popular optical toy of the nineteenth century. Cards that were usually either circular or rectangular were printed with a picture on each side. When the card was spun, sometimes using attached pieces of string, one complete image was formed. A popular example was a bird and a cage. The images were often humorous and this set features a boy being thrown from a donkey and a bull chasing a man.

The illusion is created due to the phenomenon know as persistence of vision. This is when the eye will remember an image for a brief moment and, given two images to see in a short space of time, will combine them.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 23 parts.

  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Thaumatrope Box
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Thaumatrope
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
  • Fantascope Disk
Materials and Techniques
Printed and coloured card
Brief Description
Boxed set of thaumatrope cards published in England by H G Clarke & Co in about 1850
Physical Description
A boxed set of ten cards each with a pair of images, one on each side of the card. All bar one of the cards have short pieces of string attached to each end.

The box base has a list of other parlour games and pastimes pasted on its outside.
Dimensions
  • Length: 12.2cm
  • Width: 8.5cm
  • Depth: 1.8cm
Box measurements
Summary
The thaumatrope was a popular optical toy of the nineteenth century. Cards that were usually either circular or rectangular were printed with a picture on each side. When the card was spun, sometimes using attached pieces of string, one complete image was formed. A popular example was a bird and a cage. The images were often humorous and this set features a boy being thrown from a donkey and a bull chasing a man.



The illusion is created due to the phenomenon know as persistence of vision. This is when the eye will remember an image for a brief moment and, given two images to see in a short space of time, will combine them.
Collection
Accession Number
E.804A-1945

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record createdJuly 1, 2009
Record URL