Animal Locomotion: Award of Honor 1893


World's Fair Chicago 1893 Award

Courtesy Deac Rossell

I recently stumbled across this certificate, illustrated in Homer Croy’s book 1918 book How Motion Pictures Are Made.
It was awarded to the University of Pennsylvania by the Award Commission of the 1893 Columbian Exposition at Chicago:

‘AWARD. For the extent and scientific importance of the collection. The photographs made by Mr. Edward Muybridge, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show with great elaboration and precision the locomotion and movements of animals, including man.’

Miriam Hauss of the AGHA gives some details of the Exposition, from The Book of the Fair, by Hubert Howe Bancroft:


Eight hundred fifty-two judges were divided into committees, which then judged divisions and departments. The awards highlighted “the development of the resources of the United States and the progress of the civilization in the New World, as compared with all participating nations.” Each winner received the diploma of honor (the certificate) and a bronze medal, both prepared under the direction of the United States Secretary of the Treasury and designed by William Low, who was also the designer for most of the fresco work at the Exposition. The diploma was meant as a certificate of identification and the medal as a memento of success. To avoid complaints about favoritism, all the bronze medals were alike except for the engraving of the name of the exhibitor.

During the 179 days of the fair, Hubert H. Bancroft reports that 27,529,400 persons attended the fair, the largest attendance for a world’s fair up to that date. In additional there were 65,422 individual exhibitors. As was the custom, exhibitors at the fair were given awards; however this fair’s awards were non-competitive, “granted upon specific points of excellence or advancement formulated in words” rather than for exhibit design. At the Chicago fair, 36 percent of exhibitors won an award, or 21,000 exhibitors receiving 23,757 awards. Bancroft comments that this is far less than at previous world’s fairs: Vienna, in 1873, awarded 26,000 among 42,000 exhibitors (62 percent ), 42 percent won medals at Philadelphia in 1876, and 55 percent were honored at Paris in 1889.

Midway Plaisance, with the Zoopraxographical Hall centre left


Muybridge’s biographer Robert Bartlett Haas mentions the Award, and notes that the certificate is in the [Kingston] Scrapbook, but I don’t think it is; perhaps he read about it in a cutting there. It could have been with the University when Croy – occasional screenwriter, biographer, and author of books about life in the Midwestern United States – saw it. Maybe it’s there still.

From the website of the American Historical Association (the AHA also gained a prize) we learn that the Certificate was large, measuring 24.5 inches high and 19 inches wide. It shows Columbus with the “races of the world” underneath Columbia pointing the way to the White City of the fair. That dark blob on which the figure top left is leaning, is a bison.

The same book describes the animal locomotion exhibits:

Zoopraxiscopic hall is the building of formidable name in which are given illustrated lectures on animal locomotion as applied to art. The discourses and the pictures are both entertaining and instructive, and through them one may learn surprising facts as to animals in motion and the positions which they assume. Investigation in this line is a speciality which has been pursued within comparatively recent years, among the most prominent of those who have engaged in it being Ottomar Anschuetz, of Lissa, Prussia, whose tachyscopes are exhibited in the electricity building, and Eadmund Maybridge (sic!), who displays some of his results in the hall on the plaisance. With photographic apparatus so perfected that an exposure of one ten-thousandth part of a second is sufficient for a truthful impression, the labors of such men have been prolific as results. The step of a man in the act of walking has been photographed at various points of motion, as well as the jumping and galloping of a horse, the climbing of a monkey, and the flight of a bird, with its motions upon the ground. Thus long established ideas which have obtained even among the most observant artists have been corrected, these investigations being of interest and value to the scientist as well as to the world of art.

THE BOOK OF THE FAIR, by Hubert Howe Bancroft

(Chicago, San Francisco : The Bancroft Company, 1893)

Posted here by Stephen Herbert