Victorian Anthroscope / Kaleidoscope

Victorian Anthroscope / Kaleidoscope

Stock Number: 280402 B



Tube diameter 9 cm overall height 33 cm, base 21.5 x 15.5 cm


19th Century

Country of manufacture


Categories: Technology, Magic Lanterns & Optical Toys, Other Technology Antiques


The ‘Anthroscope’ as it is called in Germany, is a rare complex form of a kaleidoscope. It is near immaculate, but it dates from the nineteenth century. I’ve seen one example in an auction catalogue several years ago. The device is interesting because it uses several methods to alter the image alone or in combination.

  1. turning the handle
  1. pulling the handle in and out horizontally
  1. using the wood slider to mask the image producing different frames round the edges or almost into the centre producing five pointed star shapes for example.
  1. Rotating the vertical tube

I took some images of the effects but they are rather disappointing. The camera gives clear images of flowers etc. because the image is frozen, but the reality is that the image moves and is constantly changing so one really has no consciousness of that sort of picture detail (I was surprised to see this detail when I first saw the photos). One individual to whom I sent the photos thought the flowers etc. had been replaced but I am certain that they are original. It is just that they are totally ‘fresh’ having lived in an airtight box with at most muted light for the past hundred and twenty years or so, so perhaps it is not surprising that they look almost perfect. Actually you can see some slight browning on one of the flowers if you look closely. This is one of the best optical toys I’ve seen in recent years. Tube diameter 9 cm overall height 33 cm, base 21.5  x 15.5 cm.

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NL Van Leest Antiques

Van Leest Antiques

Van Leest Antiques, based in Utrecht in the Netherlands, specialises in antique scientific and medical instruments. Their collection covers mainly scientific and medical antique instruments: barometers, globes and planataria, nautical instruments, anatomical models, and pharmacy items. Toon Van Leest travels regularly in Europe and visits trade fairs, auctions, and antique dealers to collect stock and to find pieces to fulfil his clients' unusual requests.

As well as being an avid antique collector and dealer, Toon Van Leest is also a dentist. He believes that antiques are a stable investment, not reliant on trends or fashion, and have truly lasting value. Above all, he says, antiques are timeless and never lose their beauty.