Psychedelic GIFs From The 19th Century [Pics]

Psychedelic GIFs From The 19th Century [Pics]

Collector digitizes animations from as far back as the 1600s

Ross Brooks
  • 28 october 2013

GIFs have taken the Internet by storm for years, but their earliest ancestors have been around since the 1600s in the form of phenakistoscopes, praxinoscopes, and zoetropes. Richard Balzer is a New York native who fell in the love with the optic toys over 40 years ago, and has since amassed a collection of thousands of illustrations and machines.

After discovering his first magic lantern, Balzer started working overseas as a photographer, but could never quite shake his curiosity for optical devices. He added to his collection of magic lanterns from flea markets across London and Paris, going on to expand his collection as his knowledge of early animation technology grew.


Balzer is now 69 and has spent the past five years curating a virtual museum of his collection online which includes detailed drawings, diagrams, and photographs of the 19th-century animations he’s accumulated over the years. He has also started to convert his psychedelic collection into GIFs and publish them to his Tumblr, giving the Internet generations a chance to see what animation involved in another age.

Richard Balzer Virtual Museum

Images via The Verge


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