the grandfather of GIFs

Over 180 years ago, the Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau invented a curious machine which made illusions called phenakistiscope, an invention considered the beginning of the animation.

A collector called Richard Balzer converts phenakistiscope discs into  animated gifs. He’s a wellknown lover of these early mills and has a nice collection of fenaquistiscopios, thaumatropes , zoetropes and other creations. I’ve personally always had interest in two-dimensional images moving before my eyes too.

Each disc was between 14 and 16 images by, exhibiting progress, turning a small mechanism, showed the figure in motion. Between each image was a progressive slot to ensure that the viewer can see at least the empty background.

phenakistascope
England
c. 1833

 

"The Bogle" - Thomas McLain - Phenakistascope - England - 1833

 

Phenakistoscope - France - c. 1833

Phenakistoscope - Netherlands - c. 1850

Phenakistoscope - France - c. 1833

Phenakistoscope - c. 1835

Phenakistoscope - France - c. 1835

Zoetrope - France - 1870
Happy Halloween from The Richard Balzer Collection!

 

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