The Bioscope

At the height of their popularity, traveling fairground shows, some claiming to seat as many as 1,000 people, often competed four or five to a venue. Like Alf Ball’s New Lyceum Show (left), they also competed to display the most ostentatiously carved and gilded showfronts, where dancing girls and barkers enticed patrons. In the most extravagant productions, the “animated photographs” themselves were merely the centerpiece of much more elaborate entertainments featuring spectacular light shows and massive organs like the one belonging to Biddall’s Electric Bioscope (right). All of this apparatus was typically powered by dynamos fixed to the traction engines of the locomotives that pulled traveling fairground attractions all around England.

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