East coast animator Brian Duffy has been cataloguing the collection of Richard Balzer, who owns a one-of-a-kind cache of antique animation toys and devices. Brian writes:
Richard Balzer’s collection numbers in the thousands and includes all manner of zoetropes, thaumatropes, phenakistoscopes, magic lanterns, and any other such devices that produce an optical effect. I have been working with Dick for the past year to help catalogue his collection in an online database, and produce flash-based galleries to show off the effects of select pieces. It’s been quite an eye-opening experience, and I’ve learned a great deal about what is essentially a lost history of animation. Some of the zoetropes and phenakistoscopes show evidence of bedrock principles of animation decades before Winsor McCay and Walt Disney.
I was blown away by all of the ancient goodies displayed on Richard Balzer’s website DickBalzer.com. It’s packed with pre-film artifacts that will prove invaluable to anybody wishing to understand the historical roots of animation. Brian says that they will soon be adding more Flash galleries that show the devices in action. Updates about the collection can be found at DickBalzer.blogspot.com. Kudos to Mr. Balzer for sharing his amazing collection with the world.