Victorian Anthroscope Kaleidoscope
The 'Anthroscope' (as it is called in Germany)is a rare complex form of a kaleidoscope. The ruler in the picture is a 12" ruler for scale. It is near immaculate, but I'm pretty certain it dates from the nineteenth century. I've seen one example in an auction catalogue (Christie's I think) some years ago and I sold one to a national museum about four years ago. The device is interesting because it uses several methods to alter the image alone or in combination.
- turning the handle
- pulling the handle in and out horizontally
- using the wood slider to mask the image producing different frames round the edges or almost into the centre producing five pointed star shapes for example.
- Rotating the vertical tube
I took some images of the effects but they are rather disappointing. It was a very difficult job with a 'normal' camera and I include them with serious misgivings least they put off customers.
It is difficult/impossible? to get a full image with my camera.
It is difficult/impossible? to get the different reflections evenly bright - maybe in reality there is variation in the brightness, but I guess one's brain compensates for this in a way that the camera cannot.
The colours seem strangely muted compared to what I see.
The camera gives clear images of flowers etc. because the image is frozen, but the reality is that the image moves and is constantly changing so one really has no consciousness of that sort of picture detail (I was surprised to see this detail when I first saw the photos). One individual to whom I sent the photos thought the flowers etc. had been replaced but I am certain that they are original. It is just that they are totally 'fresh' having lived in an airtight box with at most muted light for the past hundred and twenty years or so, so perhaps it is not surprising that they look almost perfect. Actually you can see some slight browning on one of the flowers if you look closely. This is one of the best optical toys I've seen in recent years. Tube diameter 3.5" (9 cm) overall height 13" (33 cm) base 8.5" (21.5 cm) x 6.5" (15.5 cm)
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