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History of Flipbooks

The earliest known flipbooks originated during medieval times, such as the flipbook “Sigenot” from 1470. It was the first book on record to have sequential imagery in it. Although its images do not create a consistent motion, they showcase different action sequences of the characters.


Nobody had ever seen anything like it 500 years ago. As time went on, better flipbooks were invented that reduced the motion intervals between each picture. It created a more authentic illusion of a moving image without any jump cuts or inconsistencies in the motions.


In 1868, a British lithograph printer named John Barnes Linnett created the first flipbook to use a linear sequence of images. He is credited as the inventor of the modern version of the flipbook. A patent was filed for the invention under the name “Kineograph” in the year 1868. After his death from pneumonia, his widow sold the patent to a businessman from the United States.


In 1894, a German inventor and filmmaker named Max Skladanowsky took the flipbook concept a step further by introducing it to film. Rather than use a series of pictures and drawings, he showcased photographic images in serial format. These were photographs he captured with his camera. The following year, he developed a film projector to display a series of photos to an audience.


In a sense, the flipbook was the inspiration for movies and film projection. Every time you go to the movie theatre to watch the latest film release, you’re basically watching a series of images running one after another. The flipbook concept is how cartoons and animated movies are made as well. The difference is that illustrated images are used in sequence rather than photographic images.



Modern Times


Modern paper flipbooks are created as novelty items for children. They might even find a small flipbook as a prize in a Cracker Jack box. As for adults, they like to collect vintage flipbooks from the 18th and 19th centuries because of their historical significance. There are even people competing to create the biggest flipbook in the world. The World Records for “most pages in a flipbook” title holder was Tushar Pillay in 2018.

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Some companies use flipbooks as part of their promotional strategies. For example, Walt Disney Animation Studios has an introductory animated logo at the beginning of every film they made since 2007. It is not a physical flipbook, but the classic flipbook is represented in the logo.


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