1887 One Hundred Years Ago

August 2017

After years of photographing animals, birds, and nude men and women, Eadweard Muybridge selected 781 of his 100,000 pictures and compiled an elevenvolume work, published in November under the title Animal Locomotion: An Electro-photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements, 1872–1885 . “This work,” Muybridge wrote that year, “is the only basis of accurate criticism of the movements incidental to life as depicted in art designs.” At six hundred dollars a copy, only thirty-seven perfect sets of the opus were made. It stirred great excitement in the scientific and artistic worlds. Today a copy of Animal Locomotion costs about forty-four thousand dollars.

Harper’s Weekly of November 19 announced that “Mr. Edison has completed his phonograph, and unless he talks at random it is the most marvelous of his inventions. … These wonderful instruments can be manufactured so that they may be sold for $60, and five hundred will be on the market within two months.”