Ryanaud died in a hospice on the banks of the Seine where he had been cared for since 29 March 1917. His late years were tragic from 1910 when, crushed by a lewis, dejected and penniless, he threw the greater part of his irreplaceable work and unique equipment into the Seine as the public had deserted his “Théatre Optique” shows which had been a celebrated attraction at the Musée Grevin between 1892 and 1900.
The word praxinoscope translates roughly as “action viewer”, from the Greek roots. The praxinoscope was an animation device, the successor to the zoetrope. Like the zoetrope, it used a strip of pictures placed around the inner surface of a spinning cylinder. The praxinoscope improved on the zoetrope by replacing its narrow viewing slits with an inner circle of mirrors, placed so that the reflections of the pictures appeared more or less stationary in position as the wheel turned. Someone looking in the mirrors would therefore see a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, with a brighter and less distorted picture than the zoetrope offered.
The Red Raven Magic Mirror and its special children’s phonograph records, introduced in the US in 1956, was a 20th-century adaptation of the praxinoscope. The Magic Mirror was a sixteen-sided praxinoscopic reflector with angled facets. It was placed over the record player’s spindle and rotated along with the 78 rpm record, which had a very large label with a sequence of sixteen interwoven animation frames arrayed around its center. As the record played, the user gazed into the Magic Mirror and saw an endlessly repeating animated scene that illustrated the recorded song. In the 1960s, versions of the Red Raven system were introduced in Europe and Japan under various names—Teddy in France and the Netherlands, Mamil Moviton in Italy, etc.