Crafts & Tours Saturday: Victorian Thaumatropes

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Families and kids are invited to make their own toy Victorian thaumatropes during open house tours at the historic Smith-Appleby House Museum on “Crafts & Tours Saturday: Victorian Thaumatropes,” July 28, 2012, Saturday, in Smithfield, RI.


Hosted by volunteers in 18th century costume, the open house will feature tours and demonstrations throughout the historic landmark home depicting what daily life was like in Colonial Rhode Island. Plus, as part of the tour, kids will learn about — and make their own — toy Victorian thaumatropes to take home.


Thaumatropes were popular toys for children in Victorian times. They work because of an optical illusion called "persistence of vision.” The toy consists of a paper circle attached to a stick. The circle has a different picture on each side. When a child quickly twirls the stick, the two images seem to merge. For example, a drawing of bird on one side and a tree on the other will appear as if the bird is perched upon the tree.


The Smith-Appleby House was originally built circa 1696 as a one-room stone-ender with a loft by Elisha Smith, the grandson of John Smith “The Miller,” one of Roger Williams’ original party of six men who left the Massachusetts Bay Colony to settle in Providence. Expanded by later generations of the family to 12 rooms, today the House is one of a few remaining 17th century houses in Rhode Island and features original furnishings, designs, and exhibits.


Crafts & Tours Saturday: Victorian Thaumatropes,” takes place July 28, 2012, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Smith-Appleby House Museum. There is a $5 donation for adults and children are free. No reservations are needed. The House is located just off I-295 (Exit 8-B) at 220 Stillwater Road in Smithfield, RI. For more information, visit


The House is headquarters to The Historical Society of Smithfield. For more information, visit the website at Follow the House on Facebook at, on Twitter at, and on Google+ at