Magic Lantern

The Centre has a magic lantern or Laterna magica which is an early type of image projector (originally developed in the 17th century) fitted with a concave mirror in front of a light source and projects it through a slide with an image scanned onto it. Early models used candles or oil lamps as a light source followed by the Argand lamp, limelight, and then incandescent elctric lamps.

It is the ability of the projector to screen moving images via mechanical slides (using two glass slides – one with the part of the picture remaining stationary and one with the part of the picture that would move on disc) that  influenced the invention of the 45mm projector and motion picture making. Conjurers used them in seances and phantasmagoria presentations in the eighteenth century and they were much in evidence at popular carnivals and fairs in the nineteenth century. They were used to conjure up supernatural images such as devils, phantoms and ghosts.

The one in our Collection comes with a complete set of Punch & Judy slides which were made into postcards, notepads and greeting cards in the 1980’s. It is still in full working order.