The Fantascope or Phenakistiscope was invented in 1830
simultaneously by Joseph Plateau in Belgium and Simon Stampfer
in Austria. The toy had
a disc with a series of images set in a ring around the edge, with small
slits between the images. A rod was placed through the centre
of the disc
and it was spun in front of a mirror. A person looking through the slits
from the back of the disc would see a moving image reflected
in the mirror.
The images used could either be abstract patterns or performers such
as jugglers or dancers.
You can see some examples of the fantascope. We have
tried to reproduce a digital version of what a Victorian viewer
Because the Fantascope was quite complicated to use, and could only be
watched by one person at once, it was later adapted to form a new kind
of toy, the Zoetrope.
View the Fantascopes
Make a reproduction fantascope
Design your own Fantascope
Find out more (links to external website)