07 May 2012
David Boxall takes a look at the Chad Valley's Kaleidoscope, which was produced in the 1960s. ...
A Kaleidoscope is essentially a tube through which a series of symmetrical patterns or figures can be viewed. The tube is in two parts, an inner and an outer cylinder, enabling the main tube to be held stationary, while the outer tube can be turned, or perhaps more accurately described as twisted around. Inside the tube, two reflective sheets are positioned to run the full length of this very visual toy. A viewing hole at one end can be looked through in order to watch the various patterns form and change. The patterns are produced by reflections of small pieces of coloured glass or plastic within the tube. By rotating the tube, the coloured objects within fall and tumble to form new shapes and patterns.
The best way to view the patterns formed in the Kaleidoscope is to look at the contents whilst aiming the tube towards the light – daylight is fine. The Kaleidoscope shown was made in England during the 1960s and was produced by Chad Valley – a company well known to anyone whose childhood spanned any part of this decade or the two either side of it.
This particular Kaleidoscope is made of tinplate and has numerous coloured squares of plastic inside to form the patterns. The tube itself is brightly decorated with potential coloured patterns together with pictures of children illustrating how to use the toy.
Around the top edge of the Kaleidoscope is printed a simple instruction: "Look through the peep hole and you’ll see – patterns pretty as can be."
At the other end of the tube is printed ‘1,001 Patterns’ – an indication of the potential of this simple but fascinating toy.