ND [1810].

Item Description

A George III mahogany zograscope with circular lens enclosed in a plain fram, the mirror in a matching frame, turned supports and base, brass hinges and fittings. An original and unsophisticated example. A little worn commensurate with age, but a good example.


The Zograscope or 'optical diagonal machine' first appeared in England about 1745, and was used mostly in the eighteenth century and first half of the nineteenth century for viewing prints. The print is placed flat on the table, upside down and the mirror image is viewed through the lens, creating a greater depth or sense of perspective.

'Perspective prints', or 'Vues d'Optiques' were produced in large numbers from about the middles of the eighteenth century, often with the captions reversed so they could be viewed through the zograscope. This was a very fashionable way to view topographical prints - few people would have had the opportunity or means to have travelled far and this brought the world into their study.

'Almost fort different English terms for the print-viewing device are known to have been used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Of these, only zograscope is used today, mostly by antiques dealers and museum curators. Apparently coined by the instrument-maker George Adams Sr., in 1753, the word derives from the Greek for painting, zographia. In its literal meaning, zographia refers to the concept behind a painting, 'alive-writing'. A zograscope is thus a 'scope' through which you look to make the picture you see appear lifelike.' [Erin Black, Folger Library in Imago Mundi, vol 54, 2002. pp120-124]

[Stock No. 25389]



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