This collection consists of early optical devices commonly known as magic lanterns. The first report of the construction of a magic lantern is generally considered to be referring to the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1659. The lanterns in this collection are dated from the early 1800s until the mid 1900s and include large professional devices as well as consumer models and toy magic lanterns.
The collection also holds over 500 lantern slides on a wide range of subjects. The slides demonstrate different iterations of glass slide projection and the evolution from hand-painted imagery to photographic and mechanical slides.
A black tin Improved Phantasmagoria Lantern with handle and crooked chimney.
Carpenter marketed his Improved Phantasmagoria Lantern as a consumer version of the famous Phantasmagoria lantern shows that simulated ghost and spirit projections during the late 1700 and early 1800s. The name is a misnomer since Phantasmagoria refers to a type of projection rather than a type of lantern. The handle on the lantern was meant to accompany a larger professional magic lantern show with a small, mobile projector, or for small scale uses.
The Lampascope Boule is a circular magic lantern projector with a hole at the base. This consumer lantern was meant to be placed on top of an oil lamp for home use. Lampascope projectors were elaborately painted with bright colours. This lantern is very faded but has remnant of red on the lens, and blue on the chimney.
A hand-cranked 35 mm and small glass slide projector. This cinematograph was made after 1908 by the limited company Société Anonyme des Etablissements Demaria - Lapierre, when the two Lapierre brothers were obliged to amalgamate with the photographic manufacturer Jules Demaria. Cinematographs always had the ability to show loops, film strips from which the begin and end were glued together. For this purpose the upper reel was mounted above the apparatus on an extending bar. Longer films could also be showed but since there was not take-up reel the film would fall onto the floor or in a bag. The intermittent film transport was brought about by a rotating buckled rod that repeatedly struck the film down.