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How Milton Bradley Introduced 19th Century Kids to Moving Pictures

In addition to founding the iconic board game company, Milton Bradley was also an experienced lithographer and influential proponent of early childhood education. These passions came together in his “Historiscope,” a beautifully illustrated toy meant to be a fun and educational tool for young children.

“The Historiscope: A Panorama and History of America” uses colorful lithograph prints to outline U.S. history, or at least history as it was understood when it was made around the year 1870. The toy consists of an eight-inch box containing a panoramic paper scroll. As the paper rolls along, history unfolds in 25 scenes, including Christopher Columbus landing in the Americas and the Earl of Cornwallis’ army surrendering in Yorktown. 

Illustrated to look like a theater framing the scenes, complete with audience members watching from the balconies, the box originally came with tickets for “attendees” as well as an educational lecture to accompany the show. A Historiscope might look antiquated in today’s market of tablet-inspired gadgets for toddlers, but for many 19th century children it was their first introduction to moving, color pictures. Below you can watch a video of an authentic Historiscope from the Huntington Library’s art collection in San Marino, California.

[h/t: Huntington Blogs]

Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books
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Design
Inside This Pop-Up Book Are a Planetarium, a Speaker, a Decoder Ring, and More
Original image
Courtesy Chronicle Books

Designer Kelli Anderson's new book is for more than just reading. This Book Is a Planetarium is really a collection of paper gadgets. With each thick, card stock page you turn, another surprise pops out.

"This book concisely explains—and actively demonstrates with six functional pop-up paper contraptions—the science at play in our everyday world," the book's back cover explains. It turns out, there's a whole lot you can do with a few pieces of paper and a little bit of imagination.

A book is open to reveal a spiralgraph inside.
Courtesy Chronicle Books

There's the eponymous planetarium, a paper dome that you can use with your cell phone's flashlight to project constellations onto the ceiling. There's a conical speaker, which you can use to amplify a smaller music player. There's a spiralgraph you can use to make geometric designs. There's a basic cipher you can use to encode and decode secret messages, and on its reverse side, a calendar. There's a stringed musical instrument you can play on. All are miniature, functional machines that can expand your perceptions of what a simple piece of paper can become.

The cover of This Book Is a Planetarium
Courtesy Chronicle Books
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh
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Art
Japanese Artist Crafts Intricate Insects Using Bamboo
Original image
Noriyuki Saitoh

Not everyone finds insects beautiful. Some people think of them as scary, disturbing, or downright disgusting. But when Japanese artist Noriyuki Saitoh looks at a discarded cicada shell or a feeding praying mantis, he sees inspiration for his next creation.

Saitoh’s sculptures, spotted over at Colossal, are crafted by hand from bamboo. He uses the natural material to make some incredibly lifelike pieces. In one example, three wasps perch on a piece of honeycomb. In another, two mating dragonflies create a heart shape with their abdomens.

The figures he creates aren’t meant to be exact replicas of real insects. Rather, Saitoh starts his process with a list of dimensions and allows room for creativity when fine-tuning the appearances. The sense of movement and level of detail he puts into each sculpture is what makes them look so convincing.

You can browse the artist’s work on his website or follow him on social media for more stunning samples from his portfolio.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

Bamboo insect.

[h/t Colossal]

All images courtesy of Noriyuki Saitoh.

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