Modern GIFs may make the Internet a more animated place, but they're no match for the sublime weirdness of 19th-century animations. While some are graceful mini-movies of people and animals, others seem pulled from some truly surreal nightmares.

Everything you wanted to know about phenakistoscope, zoetrope, and praxinoscope

Who's Knocking At The Door, a French zoetrope from the 1870s

A Couple Waltzing, by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893

(via Library of Congress)

Zoetrope Series No. 1, from Milton Bradley Co., 1867

A soldier on horseback

(via Digital Media For Artists Archive)

Slip To The Water

Praxinoscope animation by Émile Reynaud, 1877-1879

Comets and Planets

(via Weird GIF)

Dancing and Jumping

Athletes – Boxing by Eadweard Muybridge, c. 1893

(via Wikimedia Commons)


Rats by Thomas Mann Baynes, 1833


Lions eating children

(via Weird GIF)

Eaten by a head

Frightening phenakistoscopes

(via Colossal)


(via North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics)

McLean's Optical Illusions, a series of 12 phenakistoscope discs, published in 1833.

Mule Bucking and Kicking,by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893 (zoopraxiscope)

(via Wikimedia Commons)

The Frogeater

The Attitudes of Animals in Motion, by Eadward Muybridge, 1881, and some of his other works, often demonstrated with a zoetrope

A Horse-back Somersault, by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893 (zoopraxiscope)

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Village Blacksmiths, by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893 (zoopraxiscope)

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Baboon Walking and Buffalo Galloping, by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893 (zoopraxiscope)

(via Wikimedia Commons 12)

Columbian Exposition Horse Race (Galloping), by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893 (zoopraxiscope)

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Monkeys Climbing a Cocoa Palm, by Eadweard Muybridge, 1893 (zoopraxiscope)

(via Wikipedia Commons)


The GIFs are phenakistoscopes from The Richard Balzer Collection, except when noted otherwise.