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The Ludoscope. A Merrywheel for Motion Pictures

Promotional leaflet, Ludoscope, c.1905 (Nicholas Hiley Collection)

For this page we extend the 19th-century time period a few years in order to accommodate the Ludoscope, patented by Professor Zimmerman in 1904 (USA) and 1905 (England). [note 1] Advertising this as the "lastest" novelty was stretching credence a bit, as it's essentiallly a phenakistiscope of the type popular 70 years earlier, with the addition of a viewing hood. Harbach and Co. of Philadelphia, were active in the first decade or so of the 20th century, selling magic lanterns and motion picture machines. [note 2] The slotted disc has printed on it THE GLEN ROCK STAMPING CO. GLEN ROCK, PA. U.S.A. The toy was supplied with 6 discs; twelve different discs have been noted in auction advertisements.

William H. Zimmerman had previously patented a Combined Hood and Cooking Utensil (1903), and a Scientific Toy (1902). [note 3]

(Left: Richard Balzer Collection. Right: François Binétruy Collection)

Plain box marked "The Novelette Mfg. Co." [Baltimore, MD] (Left and Right: François Binétruy Collection)

Left: Later version with metal stand. (Collection of Jack & Beverly Wilgus). Right: Drawing from the American patent

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1. US 774,632. Filed 16 Feb 1904, Granted 8 Nov 1904. England [number]: 25 Jan 1905. The Ludoscope was briefly reviewed in The American Stationer, 1906. Vol.59, p.18.

2. Harbach & Co, 809 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, Pa., advertised (for example) in Popular Mechanics in the period 1909-1911.

3. Combined Hood and cooking Untensil US 752503. Scientific Toy US 722070. There is also a patent in the name of William H. Zimmerman filed in 1947: Brush for Phonograph Needles.