© McCord Museum
A wonderful animated or moving picture exhibition, poster, USA, about 1895
Sears Roebuck & Co.
About 1895, 19th century
70 x 53 cm
© McCord Museum
Keys to History:
Since the early 19th century, people have been fascinated by the illusion of movement. Many optical experiments were conducted to try to elucidate the phenomenon of the persistence of vision. The illusion of movement is produced by showing a series of still images in quick succession because the brain retains images upon the retina for some time after the actual light stimulus is removed. The entertainment industry wanted to exploit these techniques, which were originally developed for scientific purposes. This was the beginning of moving pictures. The modern public interested in photography was especially inquisitive about new forms of popular entertainment. If 1895 marked the birth of cinematography, with brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, other processes for projecting still and animated images enchanted viewers well before the advent of motion pictures.
One of the engravings reproduced on this poster shows a stereopticon, a device that combines the principles of cinematography (sequence of images on film) and stereoscopy (three-dimensional images).
The public, eager to see moving pictures, crowded into rooms specially arranged for the projection of films and animated images of all kinds.
At the start of the century, cinematographic projections were used for a variety of purposes. The Canadian government, for example, in an effort to boost immigration to the West, organized talks that featured cinematographic projections and stereoscopic viewings.
In 1895, the new company Sears, Roebuck & Co. launched a mail-order service. It published a 532-page catalogue featuring shoes, women's clothes, fashion accessories, fishing equipment, guns, watches, jewellery and much, much more.