Whirligig of Life, ca. 1875
This was my great-grandfather's, and he played with it as a child. He was given the toy in 1875, and then it went to my grandfather and to my mother and then to me.
This is one of the great optical toys of the late 19th century. In this country we called it the Whirligig of Life, in France they called it the praxinoscope. It's a pre-cinema toy. It uses the same phenomenon called persistence of vision that makes movies work for us. The different mirrors act just like a shutter in a movie camera, and when you stare right at one point on the mirror, as the toy is going around, you see the action. This is a remarkable thing to see it go through so many children's grubby hands for 125 years, is absolutely astounding, so... I think in today's market, we're probably looking at between $2,000 and $3,000.
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Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
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