Pre-Digital Humanities

Checking out Spooner’s protean views and other ‘hold-to-light’ prints


Another way to appreciate protean views is by using a Polyorama Panoptique, popular from the 1820s through to the 1850s (and today). The portable, collapsible viewer was invented by Pierre Seguin, often given away as a souvenir during popular events or exhibitions. It is a miniature version of the megalethoscope.


John Ayston Paris, a London physician, is often credited with 19th century ‘persistence of vision’ devices. Many of the students made their own.

A portrait of Jules Verne

The Neo-Lucida is much easier to use than the original 19th-century device patented by Sir William Hyde Wollaston. That’s not just because it was invented by a Princeton graduate.