Strange as it may seem, there is a society for Victorian (and pre and post Victorian) slide projection enthusiasts. The Magic Lantern Society was formed in 1976 and punches far above its weight in terms of the professionalism of its meetings, publications and events. Over the last few decades, some of its four hundred members have rediscovered much of our forgotten pre-cinema history, published world-class articles and text books and have been the inspiration for cinema-related museums and academic studies around the world.
Surprisingly perhaps, Magic Lantern Society members are (fairly) normal people who happen to enjoy performing, undertaking historical research, collecting optical bygones or just spending time with like-minded individuals. Our membership spans the world, although there is a sister organisation called The Magic Lantern Society of the United States and Canada.
I recognise, of course, that as interests go, ours is a little off-the-wall, eccentric even, but I’m sure there are societies with stranger passions than ours, no, really, there must be. We meet four times a year, usually in the UK, and every four years hold a three day extravaganza, which is an opportunity to see the finest magic lanterns, slides and optical toys; be amazed and amused by the best performers and buy those hard-to-find items for our collections. The next International Convention will be held in Birmingham (England) in April 2017. If you think this event might tickle your fancy, you can join the Magic Lantern Society and register for three days of fun and fascination. Alternatively, if you would like to dip your toe into these strange but friendly waters, you could attend our one public performance, an evening of remarkable entertainment. I guarantee that you won’t have seen anything like it before and probably never will again.