Pre-Cinematic Media Collection

A description of the collection of pre-cinematic optical devices owned by the IMC, along with instructions for checking out and using this collection.

Description of collection. 

This is a collection of nineteenth-century pre-cinematic media objects, including antiques and facsimiles, collected by Amanda Shubert in 2020-2021 and supported by a 2020 Instructional Continuity Grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The collection is comprised of 14 items and includes 128 components. It focuses on three types of popular pre-cinematic optical media technologies. The first is the magic lantern, an early form of slide projector that employed painted, photographic, or printed glass slides. The collection includes a toy magic lantern made for home use, a selection of “slipping slides,” and a selection of storytelling slide sequences. The second type of media is the stereoscope, a binocular optical device that enables spectators to view stereographs – two photographs pasted side by side – as a single image in 3D. The collection includes two stereoscopes, one antique and one contemporary, and a selection of nineteenth-century stereographs. Finally, the collection covers four nineteenth century optical toys: the thaumatrope, phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope. These toys were designed between 1825 and 1877 to demonstrate the optical theory nineteenth-century scientists called “persistence of vision,” or the phenomenon that the eye perceives objects for a split second after they disappear. The optical toys in the collection are all facsimiles.  


Itemized descriptions. 
1. Toy magic lantern, including box and set of 11 panoramic magic lantern slides. Made by Ernst Planck, Germany, ca. 1890s.

2. Slipping slide: “Best Porter.” Magic lantern slide, maker unknown, nationality unknown, date unknown.

3. Slipping slide: “Two jesters.” Magic lantern slide, maker unknown, nationality unknown, date unknown.

4. Slipping slide: “Shaving.” Magic lantern slide, maker unknown, nationality unknown, date unknown.

5. “A Rough Wind.” Set of 9 magic lantern slides, maker unknown, British, date unknown.

6. “Cash Three: A Temperance Story.” Set of 12 magic lantern slides, maker unknown, nationality unknown, ca. 1890 – 1910.

7. Wooden stereoscope. Maker unknown, nationality unknown, date unknown.

8. The London Stereoscopic Company OWL Stereoscope. Designed by Brian May for the London Stereoscopic Company, Britain, 21st-century.

9. Set of 12 stereographs of India. Keystone View Company, United States, date unknown.

10. Set of 12 miscellaneous stereographs. Various makers, nationalities, and dates.

11. “The Magic Circle.” Box of 10 thaumatropes. Facsimiles made by Ancient Magic Toys, United States, 21st-century.

12. “The Phenakistoscope: With Pictures of H.S. Marks.” Box of 12 phenakistoscope disks, plus holder. Facsimiles made by Ancient Magic Toys, United States, 21st-century.

13. “Le Zootrope.” Zoetrope with 16 strips. Facsimiles made by Ancient Magic Toys, United States, 21st-century.

14. “Le Praxinoscope.” Praxinoscope with 24 strips. Facsimiles made by Ancient Magic Toys, United States, 21st-century.


Note from the donor, Amanda Shubert. 

I created this collection for teaching, with the goal of promoting hands-on learning about nineteenth-century visual culture and pre-cinematic media in Communication Arts, English, and any other department or division of the university that wishes to make use of these resources. Instructors should be able to borrow objects from the collection to teach with in their classrooms and students should be able to study the objects on site at the IMC.  

Reservation and use of items in the collection.

To reserve items from the collection, email James Runde (jcrunde@wisc.edu) at least one week prior to your intended reservation. Once a reservation has been made, you must come to the IMC to use the items in question. For individuals, use of the items will be limited to one of the IMC viewing rooms (3160Y, 3160Z). For parties of two or more students, use of the items will be limited to the IMC Living Room Lab (3160D). Items will not be removed from these rooms and under no condition should these items leave the IMC for any reason. Failure to abide by these rules or to respect the items in the collection may lead to restriction or revocation of IMC equipment privileges. 




Keywords:Optical Toys, Pre-Cinema, Collection   Doc ID:113132
Owner:James R.Group:CommArts Instructional Media Center
Created:2021-08-18 13:31 CDTUpdated:2021-08-27 16:22 CDT
Sites:CommArts Instructional Media Center
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