Kromscop

Physics

Accession Number: 2009.ph.22

Description:

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

Function:

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)

Condition:

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:

Manufacturer:

Date of Manufacture: 1902-1909

Provenance:

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 thebioscope.net.

Historical Notes: