Accession Number:


A three-stepped wooden box sitting on a somewhat broader rectangular wooden base.

The two top ‘steps’ of the box are relatively large, and the first one is relatively small, only a few centimeters high. The tops of the highest two ‘steps’ are glass, with the top step originally being red glass, and the middle step being dark blue glass; both of these are fixed in place by metal frames. A third piece of green glass is affixed as the riser to the second step, perpendicular to the blue glass.

On the top of the lowest ‘step’ a hinged mirror, with the mirror fixed to a piece of wood and facing towards the steps, is mounted vertically on a sliding pivot, with a knob to fix it in position.

On the opposite side, on the rear of the tallest ‘step’, are two round lenses situated side-by-side in a small door. Three metal brackets or hooks are attached to this door, and there is a rotating latch to keep the door closed.

The entire box portion can be tilted up from the wooden base on a hinge located in front of the lowest step, and supported on a bracket.

Primary Materials: Metal, Wood, Glass

Dimensions (cm):

Height = 18.2, Width = 16.2, Length = 22.2


The Kromskop (pron. “chrome-scope”) is a optical device designed to recombine specially captured monochrome photographs in order to view a photographic image in colour. It was designed by American Frederic Eugene Ives, who described his invention like this:

“The Kromskop is an optical instrument which accomplishes for light and color what the Phonograph accomplishes for sound and the Kinetoscope for motion … The Kromskop photograph is … although not a color photograph, a color record, just as the cylinder of the phonograph, although not a cylinder of sound, contains a record of sounds, and the kinetoscope ribbon, although not an animated photograph, contains a record of motion. The phonograph cylinder must be placed in the phonograph before it can be made to reproduce the sounds recorded; the kinetoscope ribbon must pass through the kinetoscope in order to visually reproduce the moving scene; and the Kromogram must be placed in the Kromskop in order to visually reproduce the object photographed.” – Frederic Ives, Kromskop Color Photography (1898)


Very good. The wood of the object is in good condition. The topmost glass lid of the box is damaged or corroded on the surface; its red colouring is only visible around the very rim where the glass is affixed to the wood, and the surface exhibits a lacy pattern. The hood covering the eyeholes shown in the catalogue is not present.

Associated Instruments:


Date of Manufacture: 1902-1909


Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Additional Information and References:

A catalogue from The Scientific Shop for the “Kromskop” designed by F.E. Ives can be found at the Smithsonian Institute Libraries collection of scientific catalogues.

A description of the Kromskop and its function can be found at

Historical Notes: