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Flick Book - 'Cinematograph Living Pictures', Climbing Billy Goat, circa 1920 Document Reg. No: HT 25043

Flick book, produced in Germany, showing a simple animation of a billy goat climbing up and over a folding step ladder. The flick book is made of a number of pages, each with a related but slightly different static image printed on it, which together record a sequence of movement. To create the animation the flick book is held at the spine between the first finger and thumb of the left hand, while the thumb of the right hand flicks the pages in sequence, allowing the viewer to see each page in rapid succession.

Flick books were part of a range of popular optical toys and amusements invented during the 19th century, many of which attempted to create the illusion of movement using a fast moving series of static images. These technologies were important because the concepts they were based upon would eventually give rise to the origins of modern cinematography and moving films during the 1890s and later to the first television broadcasts and electronic videos during the mid 20th century.

There is no exact date recorded for the invention of the flick book, but the earliest known patent was filed in Britain on 18th March 1868 by John Barnes Linnett, a printer from Birmingham, who described his invention as 'The Kineograph a new optical illusion'. In America the first patent for a similar device is attributed to Henry Van Hoevenbergh and dated 16 th June 1882. The flick book was at the height of its popularity during late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, they are still produced to this day. Flick books have been known by a variety of names including 'flick books' or 'flicker books' in Britain, 'flip books' or 'flippies' in the America, 'Daumenkino' (thumb cinema) in Germany, 'Kineograph' or 'Cinema de poche' (pocket cinema) in France and many proprietory or brand names.

The 'Cinematograph' name was first introduced by the Lumière Brothers, Auguste and Louis, of France, during the mid-1890s to describe their combined moving film camera and projector. It appears that the name was subsequently adopted by German manufacturers of small flick books.

This flick book is part of the Francis Collection of pre-cinematic apparatus and ephemera, acquired by the Australian and Victorian Governments in 1975. David Francis was the curator of the National Film and Sound Archive of the British Film Institute as well as being a co-founder of the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which operated between 1988 and 1999.
Flick book of 26 pages, made of heavy paper. Images printed in black. Metal staple bound along left lateral margin.
Acquisition Information:
Loan & Subsequent Donation from Australian Film Institute (AFI)
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 40 mm (Height), 54 mm (Width)

More information

Tagged with: goats, pre-cinema moving images, animation, optical toys, optical illusion devices
Themes this item is part of: Francis Collection, Images & Image Making Collection, Leisure Collection
Primary Classification: RECREATION & TOURISM
Secondary Classification: Amusements
Tertiary Classification: optical devices
Inscriptions: On cover: 'Cinematograph/LIVING PICTURES'
Left lateral margin of cover: 'Germany'
Place & Date Made: Germany, circa 1920
Inventor: Mr John Linnett, England, Great Britain, 1868

First known British patentee of the flick book.
Collector: Mr David Francis, London, Middlesex, England, Great Britain, pre 1975
Accessed 11 May 2010

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