A Singular Sensation–The Kaleidoscope.

Random Topic #5

Kaleidoscope image rendered from an image of  Fun House sign, Seattle, Washington

Kaleidoscope image digitally rendered from an image of
Fun House sign, Seattle, Washington

Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. Fun House sign, Seattle, Washington. September 22, 2009. Image. Retrieved from the Library of Congress

The image used to render the above kaleidoscope images was used
in yesterday’s post, Fun House..

“The production of the kaleidoscope excited a singular sensation; and it is calculated that not less than two hundred thousand were sold in three months, in London and Paris together.”1, 2

ka·lei·do·scope - Definition from Google

“Sir David Brewster (11 December 1781 – 10 February 1868) was a Scottish physicist, mathematician, astronomer, inventor, writer, historian of science and university principal.” “He is well-recognized for being the inventor of the kaleidoscope and an improved version of the stereoscope applied to photography.” “Among the non-scientific public, his fame spread more effectually by his invention in about 1815 of the kaleidoscope, for which there was a great demand in both the United Kingdom, France, and the United States… Although Brewster patented the kaleidoscope in 1817, a copy of the prototype was shown to London opticians and copied before the patent was granted. As a consequence, the kaleidoscope became produced in large numbers, but yielded no direct financial benefits to Brewster. It proved to be a massive success with two hundred thousand kaleidoscopes sold in London and Paris in just three months.”3

Numerous “full length” kaleidoscope videos are available on YouTube.


  1. The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Volumes 25-26; Containing original essays; historical narratives, biographical memoirs, sketches of society, topographical descriptions, novels and tales, anecdotes, select extracts from new and expensive works, the spirit of the public journals, discoveries in the arts and sciences, useful domestic hints, etc. etc. etc.; page 154, The Kaleidoscope, published 1835 (retrieved 9/11/2016)
  2. The initial random topic from my randomly sorted list was singular sensation. A search on the phrase “a singular sensation” yielded, among other things, the 1835 article from The Mirror.
  3. David Brewster; Wikipedia (retrieved 9/11/2016)
images, now that’s cool!, random topic

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hilary Sep 17, 2016

    Hi Mike – I love kaleidoscopes … but never thought they were invented over 200 years ago. The video – I’ll keep in case I feel I can spare the time to watch it – I guess it’s good, otherwise you wouldn’t have put it up for us.

    Brewster is an interesting character … a polymath in the science world … thanks for telling us about him – cheers Hilary
    Hilary recently posted…Herbs, Spices and Herbalists – part 3: Cloves …My Profile

    • Mike Sep 18, 2016

      I never realized how old the “art” of the kaleidoscope is. They are certainly fascinating.
      Mike recently posted…Rural scene, South DakotaMy Profile

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