Kalliroscope

JB dragged me to a garage sale this morning. Newport is a fine venue for a garage sale, as it has such a long and colourful history, and is populated by an army of characters and collectors. Despite this, I tend to avoid such sales like the plague; I have had a bad habit of collecting junk myself, and largely try to avoid any added temptations.

Today, however, and of course I find something worth the trip. I found a Kalliroscope “Pocket Viewer” for a dollar. In the original box, with the original paperwork, but sadly missing the small rotating ball-bearing base. This was a neat find for me; I’d had never before seen one in person, or even in colour, but had long wanted to encounter one.

It all started years ago. My mother passed to me a copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog, the actual “Last” one from 1971, #1160. Like a paper version of a Google search, the Whole Earth Catalog was an incredible inch-thick 11″x14″ tome, primitive, direct, and optimistic, championing “access to tools” within its pages.

In that particular issue, some articles and items were singled out for special mention. This was signified on the page by an image of a Kalliroscope next to the piece in question. The Catalog itself offered two Kalliroscopes for sale; the small hand-held globe version, and the thinner rectangular “Pocket Viewer” that I found today.

It’s hard to describe what a Kalliroscope really looks like, what it does, or how it does it. I’ve tried to find videos on-line, but haven’t found any good ones. Likewise, the website of the original inventor/manufacturer isn’t particularly helpful. Technically, the Kalliroscope is rheoscopic fluid suspension of microscopic crystalline platelets sandwiched between glass sheets. Practically, it’s a ridiculous little gizmo that you just hold and stare at while it does all this swirly cosmic stuff.

The memory of that Catalog and the inspiration I gained from it while I lived in the bus stay with me. It’s a happy little throwback to a time when sentimentality was forefront in my life. Now that I’ve lived through bitter cynicism and am now entering a strongly pragmatic period, it’s probably healthy to hold on to a few of these positive reminders of previous ages.

  1. Jennifer Collins’s avatar

    My father has a kalliroscope as well. I have been looking for one for years, as my sister and I have both been mesmerized by it since we were little. His is missing the rotating device as well. I would love to buy it from you if you are interested in selling, or if you have seen others.

    Let me know,
    Thanks so much,
    Jennifer

    Reply

    1. Mark Kaufman’s avatar

      Jennifer,

      I added a comment to this thread, below, but just realized I could reply more directly right here. Moderator, please allow this one, and feel free to delete the one below.

      I just listed a Kalliroscope on eBay.com. Please search for it there if you are interested.

      -Mark

      Reply

    2. Carl McIsaac’s avatar

      That’s a good find! I have one also, a wedding present from the founders son, George. Just visited the Kalliroscope website and it’s funny, I helped Mr. Matisse move into that old church, must’ve been 30 years ago

      Reply

    3. Robin’s avatar

      I found one at a garage sale about 5 – 6 years ago…in original boxes, (heated frame holder in one and the viewer in the other, with all paperwork and the spinner. both boxes are in the original box it was mailed in. The one I have is “Ocean Blue”. I have enjoyed it ever since I found it!

      Reply

    4. jordan’s avatar

      I have a Kalliroscope in its original box w/paperwork, spinner. Blue with chrome frame. I’m willing to sell for right offer.

      Thanks

      Reply

      1. David Lee Tiller’s avatar

        Greetings, Do you still have this Karilloscope?

        Thank you kindly
        Peace
        David Lee Tiller

        Reply

      2. charlie’s avatar

        Hi, I found one at a yard sale too. I love it. I’m curious as to what the catalog had them listed for. Do you think you could take photo of that page and send it to me?
        I saw one of those catalogs but it was too musty to buy. I’ll keep my eye out for a better one.
        Thanks,
        charlie

        Reply

      3. Jennifer Yarbrough’s avatar

        I have a kalliroscope pocket viewer I’d b willing to sale.

        Reply

        1. David Tiller’s avatar

          Greetings Jennifer,
          Could you possibly send me photos and details?

          Peace be well
          David

          Reply

          1. David Tiller’s avatar

            Do you still have the Kalliroscope?

            Reply

            1. aray’s avatar

              I have one! Contact me if you are interested. THNX

              Reply

            2. Earl’s avatar

              I found in my attic the lighted display case with blue viewer for the Kalliroscope that was used to display the pocket viewer in store. Was used in the original Kalliroscope store in Kendall sq. in the 60’s. My grandmother worked for Paul Matisse making these. She gave this to me back in the 70’s when store closed. And it still works!

              Reply

              1. David Tiller’s avatar

                Greetings Earl,
                Could you please send photos and details. I am interested in purchasing it.

                Thank you kindly
                Peace David

                dltblulefrog@aol.com

                Reply

              2. David Tiller’s avatar

                My wife and I met Paul and his wife last weekend at his Kalliroscope Gallery last weekend. I am thinking about making one.

                Peace David

                Reply

              3. Sally Baldwin’s avatar

                I’ve had my kalliroscope (with heated stand and whirly thing) since 1969 when my father gave it to me for a present. Just fired it up again after a bit of a hiatus. Mine is silvery, in a black plastic frame (which alas had cracked on one side, and was mended with a bit of scotch tape, decades ago). There are some blackish freckles of some sort on the back of the display; perhaps they developed under the plastic backing that carries the kalliroscope description. I’m sorry they’re there, but they’re not too bad, the swirling clouds are as lovely as ever. Reminds me of William Blake illuminations.

                Thanks for the reminder of the Whole Earth Catalog, our Bible in those times .

                Reply

              4. Earl’s avatar

                Hi David, sorry took so long for reply but been moving to NH that’s how I found the display. I tried to send you pics, but email add came back “unable to deliver”

                Reply

                1. David Tiller’s avatar

                  Sorry Earl my email is

                  DLTbluefrog@aol.com

                  Thanks kindly
                  Peace David

                  Reply

                2. David Tiller’s avatar

                  Where in NH? I live in Nashua, perhaps we could meet?

                  Peace D

                  Reply

                3. Stacey Amelia’s avatar

                  I have an extra ball bearing piece. Mine came with two of them.

                  Reply

                4. aray’s avatar

                  I see that this is an old thread, but watned anybody interested to know I also have one for sale. In original box, yellow liquid in dark frame with ballbearing swivel stand. Photos available upon request.

                  Reply

                  1. David Tiller’s avatar

                    Please send me the info and photos please.

                    Thanks kindly
                    David

                    Reply

                  2. Kristin Hecht’s avatar

                    I am looking for a Kalliroscope. If anyone has one to sell, please send me photos and information.

                    Thank you so much
                    Kristin (capt_kris@hotmail.com)

                    Reply

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