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Dr Paris’s Thaumatrope or Wonder-Turner

Price £7.50 (£5.00 to MLS members)

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John Barnes, Dr Paris’s Thaumatrope or Wonder-Turner

London: The Projection Box, 1995

ISBN 978-0952394-15-0

36 pages, 14 illustrations, paperback, 15 x 21cm

Based on the phenomenon that for many years was misnamed as ‘persistence of vision’, the Thaumatrope is a simple paper or cardboard disc with different parts of a picture drawn or printed on each side. When the disc is rotated quickly using twisted threads attached to its edges, the viewer’s brain merges the two images to form a composite picture of the two parts.

This short monograph (originally written in 1950, but never published until this edition) by one of the leading historians of the early British moving picture gives a clear and engaging definitive account of one of the simplest, but most enduring, optical toys. This simple device is sometimes seen as an ancestor of the cinema, but as John Barnes shows, it also has an intriguing story in its own right.