Praxinoscope, or 'Wheel of Life', 1877.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Invented by the French artist Emile Reynaud (1844-1918) in 1877, this optical toy was a variant on the Zoetrope. It also had a band of drawings around the circumference of a drum. However, instead of slits around the drum, the Praxinoscope had a series of mirrors in the centre which, as the drum was rotated, reflected each succesive drawing whilst keeping the image stationary. This method of optical stabilisation enabled viewers to see a continuous moving picture without the need for shutters and intermittent motion. The Praxinoscope is seen here with seven coloured designs, mounted on a wooden table stand with a candleholder.