Fantascope lens

Mile High Swinging Bridge photographed with Fantascope lensThe Mile High Swinging Pathway?  You certainly get that impression from the photograph above!  Hugh Morton made this photograph, and several others of various subjects, using a “Fantascope lens.”  The distorting effect of placing one of these lenses on a camera seems to be one of scrunching the image.

I’ve had no luck finding information about Fantascope lenses . . . which are not to be confused with the Phantascope, a nineteenth-century device that created the impression of a moving image, nor the Fantoscope, a 1799 patented “magic lantern on wheels” by Ettienne-Gaspard Robert.

Rather than speculate, is there anyone out there who can tell us about Fantascope lenses?

View of Grandfather Mountain summit made with Fantascope lens.

Summit of Grandfather Mountain with view of Mile High Swinging Bridge, with image distorted by Fantascope lens, August 1969.

The Mile High Swing Bridge has been getting lots of publicity this month, celebrating its sixtieth anniversary on September 2nd, so I picked two Fantascope images that are a bit different than the usual views.  The distortion in the photograph above gives the bridge a Manchu Picchu-like setting!

Intrigued? Take a peek at other scenes made by Morton using a Fantascope lens.  All of the images (35mm slides) date from August 1969.


3 thoughts on “Fantascope lens

  1. Just curious — how much of Hugh Morton’s equipment survives? What might have happened to the Fantascope lens?

  2. There wasn’t too much, Lew, as I recall. One 35mm camera I do remember seeing looked like it had a some encounters with the boulders on Grandfather Mountain.

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