A small Cabinet of Curiosities

Advertising cards, toys and other objects that somehow or other concern Pre-Cinema are shown in this page.

Peep Egg

The peep egg (also called alabaster egg) is an hand viewer, usually decorated with transfers. Peep eggs were sold as souvenir in England in the 19th century. There is a magnifyng lens on the top of the egg and one or more panoramic views inside it.


In the past metamorphoses were a popular parlour game in a lot of variants.

Neue Meta Morphosen is a box containing wodden little tiles. Combining the tiles you can obtain a lot of different and funny characters (first half of the '800).

Cinématographe Jouet

(around 1905): a charming French toy made of cardboard with a crank and, spheric weight and four continuous paper bands each carrying 46 pictures, .

Ombro cinema

Ombro Cinema is a very simple form of animation. The animation is created by sliding a paper card behind a plastic sheet which has a fence painted on it.

This toy is made in Italy and is called Il mio cinematografo.




The Stereograph: a small toy made in U.S.A. It is a viewer 9 cm. high which displays one hundred pictures printed on glass slides (the themes of the pictures are: Presidents of the U.S., Pilgrims Progress and Miscelaneous).

Kino Movie (made in Czechoslovakia): a small viewer wich displays some frames from silent movies.


Advertising cards

Cottolene was a cheap substitute of lard, made of cotton seed oil.








Advertising magic lantern slides

a couple of magic lantern slides advertising Buster Brown Shoes.

Buster Brown was one of the first comics character, created in 1902 by R.F. Outcault (Outcault himself created Yellow Kid in 1895). Buster Brown was very popular in the beginning of the last century and a lot of different goods were advertised with his brand.

To advertise upcoming movies during old cinema shows were used simple slides like this one.

Under Crimson Skies is an adventure movie released in 1920. Elmo Lincoln was the first actor to ever play Tarzan (Tarzan of the Apes, 1918).



Dizzy Kid: three old vinyl records (78 rpm) tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood (in Italian). On the labels of each record there are pictures that, when reflected by a polygonal drum covered with little mirrors, show the outstanding moments of the story. So, while you enjoy the fairy tale told by the records at the same time on the tiny mirrors a pretty animation repeats itself over and over like in a praxinoscope.