Welcome to my Magic Lantern World. The magic lantern was the forerunner of the pre-digital slide projector. It mystified, entertained and educated audiences from the 1640s to the 1940s and produced moving images long before the first public demonstration of cinema in 1895.
In the late Victorian period, the magic lantern played a significant role in bringing about social change, through slide shows of dramatic moral stories, such as those produced by the temperance movement, and of photographic ‘travel’ slides that enabled audiences to see the world beyond their immediate environs for the first time. Surprisingly, authentic Victorian magic lantern shows are alive and well, with amateur and professional showmen and women performing in many countries.
The main aim of this website and blog is to explore magic lantern ‘software’, glass slides with hand painted or printed pictures and remarkable, high resolution, photographs. However, we will occasionally venture into related fields ….. magic lantern projectors, persistence of vision machines, perspective views, early three dimensional imagery and much more ….. and we might even dip into today’s digital projection wizardry, which is obviously real magic, as there’s no other plausible explanation for it!
I hope my blog will stimulate discussion and that, together, we can create a forum to share our knowledge and experience. If you’re a performer, researcher or collector or want to learn more about this largely forgotten but important part of our technological history, your contribution will be most welcome.
If you enjoy my blog posts, please use the sharing buttons to forward them to friends and family and, to receive new ones automatically, just click ‘follow’ at the bottom of the page.