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Special Effect slides

An invisible drawing master, a wheel of live, shady moiré patterns....
The Cycloidotrope, or the invisible drawing master.

Special Effect slides manual magic lantern

Special Effect slides chest
Special Effect slides cycloidotrope
The Special Effect slides cycloidotropeCycloidotrope (c. 1865) is a rare mechanical operated magic lantern slide which draws an infinite variety of geometrical patterns on a sooty glass disc while being projected. The mahogany box contains the slide, a pair of tongs to hold a glass during smoking over a candle or paraffin lamp, and some discs. On the cycloidotrope a stylus bar can be set in any position, altering its angle and length. By turning a crank handle, the stylus traces a regular, geometric pattern onto the glass disc. These patterns are seen to emerge on the screen. The box measures 11 3/4" x 4 3/4" (30 x 12 cm). Modern children know this instrument as a toy Spiralograph.


Wheel of Life (c. 1870).
The Wheel of Life was invented by the English manufacturer of lenses and optical instruments Thomas Ross, but was manufactured and sold by many retailers. It is a kind of miniature phenakistiscope for projecting a repeating motion sequence of animated drawings on the screen. A glass disc with painted images and a shutter disc are revolving on the same axis. They are both driven by strings by means of a large double grooved pulley wheel. Note that the shutter disc spins at a faster speed relative to the picture disc and in a opposite direction. The latter is caused by the crossed string of the shutter drive. The box is marked: "With permission of the London Stereoscopic Co.".


A very good Ross Wheel of Life manufactured around 1870.
Thomas Ross acquired patents in 1869 and 1870, but was manufactured and sold by many retailers.
The animation, here a man gong up a ladder, is painted on glass and it can be swapped around, if you are lucky enough to find another disk... The slide is 25.5 cm x 11.5 cm or 10" x 4 1/2".
An American version of the Wheel of Life.

Measures 10" x 4 1/8" (25.5 x 10.5 cm).

Photos: ©Pierre Patau, antiquetoysandgames.com.



These slides were made for a popular lecture by C. Knoch entitled ‘A Day on the Moon’ and were manufactured in the workshops of the Optical Institute of A. Krüss in Hamburg in the 1890s. The central image of the large rack-work slide shows the mountain ranges of the moon, set in an intense black sky.
The slide demonstrates the astronomical events as they unfold during a moon day, which is equivalent to 28 earth days. The continually changing light phenomena are much more intense as there is no atmosphere on the moon. The earth appears as a large black disc surrounded by zodiacal light, which also casts a rosy glow on the moonscape. The second slide shows that as the sun rises in the moon’s sky, the sickle of the earth continually decreases while the rotation of the earth is observed by the rotation of the continental masses.  Source: Willem Hackmann, Oxfordshire. 


Norton Colour Wheel

A large single pulley magic lantern slide used to demonstrate the Newton colour wheel. The seven colours in Newton's optical spectrum have been pasted to a glass disk. When it is rotated, the colours blur together and the eye, unable to respond rapidly enough, sees the colours mixed together to form white.

Measures 25.5 cm x 14 .5 cm or about 10" x 5 3/4".

Photos: ©Pierre Patau, antiquetoysandgames.com.

Moiré effect.
A double pulley mahogany framed slide with two, contra rotating, brass rimmed discs perforated with a regular pattern of small holes. When the discs are slowly rotated an continuous changing intricate pattern is observed. Size of frame 10 x 4 inches (25.5 x 10 cm).

Snow effect maker. A projection device creating impression of falling snow. The blackened metal frame with wood insert measures 7" x 4 1/2" (18 x 10 cm). The central square contains a blackened flexible material pierced with tiny holes which goes up or down when one of the two brass and wooden spindles are revolved. This popular superimposed snow effect is combined with lantern slides of winter snow scenes.


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Last update: 09-05-2021.
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