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 perhaps, authentic magic lantern shows are alive and well, with amateur and professional showmen and women performing in many countries. Universities are undertaking academic research into pre-cinema optical entertainments; many people are collecting magic lanterns, slides and antique optical toys and artists and performers are rediscovering Victorian techniques that can delight, amuse and often baffle audiences.
I have been interested in this field for well over forty years as a showman, collector, author and lecturer and this website brings these various strands together. Here you can read over one hundred illustrated articles (formerly blog posts); visit Ebay to see surplus-to-my-requirements items; buy stunning, new, ‘Old PhArt’ photographs, reproduced from lantern slides and click through to my YouTube videos and the photo-history booklets that I sell on Amazon. If you run a business, you can buy a licence to use one or more of my 8,000 plus digitised historical images for commercial purpose and event organisers and programme secretaries can find details of my magic lantern shows and talks on optical entertainments.
I hope you enjoy browsing my website and please get in touch if I can help in any way.