The Phenakistoscope

Phen • • kist • • scope:  n.  
An early animation device which employs the principal of vision persistence to create an optical illusion of motion. 

Officially invented in 1841 by Joseph Plateau of Belguim, Phenakistoscopes consisted of a spinning disc attached to a vertical handle, with a series of pictures painted on the backside...

The resulting animation is something of a marvel.


According to Wikipedia:
Arrayed around the disc's center were a series of drawings showing phases of the animation, and cut through it were a series of equally spaced radial slits. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc's reflection in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images kept them from simply blurring together, so that the user would see a rapid succession of images that appeared to be a single moving picture.

I encourage you to visit DickBalzer's webpage where you can trip out on lots more crazy optical illusions.  The Thaumatropes alone are worth a look.
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