Eric's Victorian Magic Lantern Website

Magic Lantern home Canadian Pacific Egypt Gabriel Grub Paris 1900 Weekly Telegraph Animations
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Eric's home

The Victorian Magic Lantern
[Eric and his lanterns were seen in "The Protestant Revolution" on BBC4]


I have two Victorian magic lanterns, and a large collection of slides. Magic lantern shows have been provided for a variety of customers, from Nottingham Castle museum to local community organisations. Both lanterns have been converted to electric lighting instead of acetylene.

So far I have scanned in the Gabriel Grub slides (a melodramatic Dickensian moral story, perhaps it need the full story text), the Weekly Telegraph cartoon set, a few of the hundreds of Egyptian ones I have, a few of a large building of the Canadian Pacific Railway set, and some from the Paris Exhibition of 1900. More will come now I have the scanner. Most of these are from around 1900. I'm also setting up some more realistic animations.

My scanner is an old Epson Perfection 1640SU with light box. It can scan transparencies up to roughly 10cm by 12cm. The software to get it working on Windows 7 appears dodgy but so far OK. Epson tell me that a new scanner with light box (to scan transparencies larger than 35mm slides) would cost a number of thousands of pounds! Let's hope the old faithfull keeps working.

Victorian magic lantern shows

The Victorians used magic lanterns for entertainment, education, and moral teaching. I have slides of all three types.

The show would start with a series of "Welcome" slides.

The better class of shows would involve two or three lanterns, using a technique for fading one slide on top of another.


The slides were either 3.25 square glass slides displayed using a carrier, or from glass built permanently into a wooden frame. The image on the glass would be protected by a second sheet of glass.


Suez Canal

This shows the Suez canal, a photograph taken in 1890 to 1910, hand tinted.

Tahrir Square, Cairo

Cairo around 1910.

  Paris 1900

We have a whole set of the Paris exhibition of 1900.

Fading between slides

See the set of "Fire in London" slides.

Moving slides

The larger wood frame mounted slides include many with more than one piece of glass, controlled by levers, so that moving images can be obtained. Sometimes one piece slides relative to another, sometimes one rotates. Some have three separate pieces of glass.

Lastly there are complex mechanical dynamic slides representing the start of the cinema, in which repeated slowly changing images are projected.

I was a member of the Magic Lantern Society. It was founded 1975/6. The secretary is

    L.M.H. (Mike) Smith,
    South Park, Galphay Road,
    Kirkby Malzeard, Ripon,
    North Yorks HG4 3RX
from whom membership details can be obtained. Many books are available from
    John Finney,
    61 Desford Road,
    Newbold Verdon,
    Leicester LE9 9LG.
The MLS publishes an occasional Journal, and a regular quarter Newsletter. It has over 300 members worldwide. When enquiring or joining, be sure to tell Mike that you heard of the MLS through the Internet.
Copyright © in all content is held by Eric Foxley [e-mail]. Updated Tue 05-Oct-2021 15:19 . Visits Site Meter
Eric runs the Dunkirk Arts Centre and manages web sites for Chaturangan, Foresters, Greenwood, Grant Publisher and Freds Folks.