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by tom November 2, 2003
The magic lantern was an early type of image projector, developed in the 17th century.

It used a concave mirror behind a light source to direct as much of the light as possible through a small rectangular sheet of glass – the magic lantern slide – on which was the painted or photographic image to be projected – and onward into a lens at the front.

Candles or oil lamps were used, producing dim projections. Lighting Improvements took the form of the "Argand lamp" from the 1790s, limelight in the 1820s, electric arc light in the 1860s and finally the incandescent electric lamp.

The magic lantern could project moving images by the use of various types of mechanical slide, which could be over a foot long at times and could contain gears cranks and pulleys. ‘English pattern’ slides were 3.5 by 3.5 inches, ‘French pattern slides’ were 3.25 by 4 inches, and the ‘standard European size’ was 3.25 by 3.25 inches.

The magic lantern played a very important part in Victorian society. Temperance and religious lectures were given. The lantern was also used in education, for demonstration of scientific principles, and to relay news of world events. By this time, images were being transferred to slides by photographic means, and then colored by hand. Lanterns of this time could have up to four projection tubes.

Despite the advent of motion pictures, magic lanterns were still used in schools and institutes; photographic and printed slides were still being manufactured in the 1940s.
My grandma has old magic lantern projection slides from the 1920's
by cheese tips March 22, 2017