Megalethoscope by Carlo Ponti, $9000 (£7110) at Bonhams Skinner.

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Unveiled at the International Exhibition held in London in 1862, the device created the illusion of both perspective and day and night.

To view a photograph in daylight, doors with attached mirrors were opened to reflect sunlight onto the photograph. By closing the door and placing an oil lamp behind an image, the scenes appeared as nocturnes.


Megalethoscope by Carlo Ponti, $9000 (£7110) at Bonhams Skinner, with viewer shown here.

This deluxe megalethoscope in a Renaissance revival walnut and ebonised case previously belonged to New England industrialist Lucius Bowles Darling, the owner of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island Music Hall. Darling and his and wife embarked on a Grand Tour in c.1878 when this piece was purchased.

It was sold by Bonhams Skinner (28/27/21/14.5% buyer’s premium) in Marlborough, Massachusetts, in an online sale that closed on March 20, together with the original itemised invoice from Carlo Ponti, Venice, dated July 30, 1878, for 764 lire.

The auction house thought it might bring $8000-12,000 and it sold at $9000 (£7110).