PraxinoscopePraxinoscope is similar to the Zoetrope with a mirror centre which reflects the images creating the animation rather than the outer slits you use when looking at the moving images in a Zoetrope.

The praxinoscope is an important device in the history of animation and motion pictures, building upon and refining the principles established by earlier devices like the zoetrope.

What is a Praxinoscope?

The praxinoscope was an animation device invented by Frenchman Émile Reynaud in 1877. It improved upon the zoetrope by using a series of mirrors placed in the center of the cylinder instead of slits on the sides. This design provided a clearer and less distorted view of the animation.

Design and Function

Cylindrical Drum: Like the zoetrope, the praxinoscope consisted of a cylindrical drum.

Mirrors: Inside the drum, a circle of flat mirrors was positioned equidistantly, angled inwardly towards the center.

Animation Strips: Around the inner circumference of the drum, strips of sequential images (similar to those in a zoetrope) were placed.

Viewing Mechanism: As the drum was spun, a viewer would look into the mirrors. The reflections of the images on the mirrors would create the illusion of motion.

History of the Praxinoscope


After the invention of the zoetrope in the 1860s, there was a surge of interest in devices that could create the illusion of motion.
Émile Reynaud, seeking to improve the experience and quality of these animations, developed the praxinoscope to address the issues of distortion and flickering seen in the zoetrope.


The praxinoscope was a significant step forward in the quality of animated presentations.
Its clearer and steadier images provided a more realistic animation, making it a popular device not just for entertainment but also for study purposes.


Reynaud didn’t stop with the basic praxinoscope. He continued to refine the design, eventually creating the “Praxinoscope Theatre” and the “Praxinoscope à Projection.”
The Praxinoscope Theatre combined the praxinoscope with a miniature stage set, giving a more theatrical presentation of the animations.
The Praxinoscope à Projection was Reynaud’s most significant advancement, as it could project the animations onto a screen, foreshadowing the technology used in early cinema.


Émile Reynaud is often credited with creating the first animated projections, a precursor to modern cinema.
The praxinoscope played a vital role in the transition from simple motion devices to the first animated films.
Today, the praxinoscope is remembered as an important step in the evolution of visual storytelling and is celebrated for its contributions to the fields of animation and film.

The praxinoscope represents a key innovation in the history of animation, bridging the gap between early motion devices and the birth of cinema. Its development reflects the ingenuity and creativity of the era, and its influence is still seen in modern animation and film technologies.

We sell 2 different size Praxinoscopes please scroll below to see the different options.

The mid size version is also available in black and brown. Please select which colour you prefer.

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