1840s OPTICAL TOY of a YOUNG GIRL VISITING A FORTUNE TELLER to see THE MAGIC MIRROR.
Mounted hand-coloured lithographic transformational print. Printed lithographic label below with vignettes of a peacock and a swan at either side, title and publisher in the centre. 23 x 29 cm. Mr. Spooner was a London based printer who, in the 1840s, made card and paper novelties which he called Protean Views. Over thirty different views were produced and they are now very collectable (mostly of buildings or locations). Each view comprised a cardboard frame, with a hand-coloured paper picture of a popular subject printed on it (here we see a flowing, white bearded fortune telling seer -staff in right hand, black cat at his feet- revealing the magic mirror from behind heavy, green curtains, beneath tangled vipers, a suspended crystal ball and above a smoky open-fire). When you hold it up to a bright light, or sunlight, a new image appears, as if by magic, in this case a huddle of a clergyman and six finely dressed ladies and gentlemen, two holding hands centrally in their wedding ceremony, the predicted fate of one of the two excited young females on the right foreground. The age-long story of the fortune-teller and the tall dark stranger! In the early 1800s, years before the invention of cinema, scientists, artists and showmen were fascinated by pictures that changed in some way. There were a number of large-scale entertainments that used this idea to attract and amaze audiences, such as panoramas and dioramas. In addition, smaller versions such as this Protean View were made, known as ‘optical toys’.