A Lantern Alphabet


The illuminant is the light source for the magic lantern. Originally it was a candle. Oil lamps were used for many years, while later illuminants include limelight, carbon arc lamps, electric filament bulbs, incandescent gas mantles and halogen lamps.


Junior Lecturer Series
These were sets of mass-produced transfer slides mainly aimed at children, sold by W. Butcher and Sons under the trade name Primus. There was an extensive range of subjects, with over 170 sets of (usually) eight slides issued between around 1900 and the 1930s.


This popular optical toy was developed by Sir David Brewster in 1816 from an earlier novelty called the Debusscope or Polyscope.
Kircher, Athanasius
Athanasius Kircher, a German Jesuit priest, first described image projection in his book Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae of 1646, and illustrated a form of magic lantern in a later edition of 1671. For many years he was held to be the inventor of the magic lantern, but modern scholars question both the practicality of the lantern he described and whether he was the first to describe it.
The Kinora was a domestic version of the Mutoscope, a machine using a rotating drum to show a sequence of photographs in quick succession, giving a moving picture effect. In effect it was a sophisticated form of flicker book, showing picture reels of about 600 pictures which, at a speed of about 10 pictures per second, lasted about a minute.
The name used by Birt Acres for his moving picture projector. This was patented in Britain in May 1895, and the first demonstration was on 14 January 1896.
Thomas Edison’s patented moving picture camera that was used for producing films for the Kinetoscope.
The moving picture viewing apparatus that Edison created and patented in 1891. This was successful, and ‘Kinetoscope parlours’ were set up around the world where individual customers could view a film of up to 600 frames. Edison worked on a projection version, but did not complete it before other inventors.


Laterna (or Lanterna) Magica
The Latin name for the magic lantern, used widely in continental Europe.
Lever Slide
A type of slide similar to a slipper, but where one sheet of glass is fixed and the other is mounted on a brass frame which can be rotated by a lever. Typically used for subjects where a partial rotation produces an effect of movement, such as a boy riding a pig or a ship rolling on the sea.
Life Model Slides
These were produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by photographing costumed models against a studio background or exterior location to illustrate a story, recitation or song. Bamforth and York were the biggest manufacturers of life model slides. Their subjects were frequently concerned with social issues like poverty and temperance.
The form of illuminant used mainly in professional lantern projections, where an intense white light was produced by a flame of an oxy-hydrogen blowlamp playing on a block of lime.
Lithograph Slide
Another term for transfer slides.
Long Slides
The earliest lantern slides seem to have been long slides, consisting of a single long strip of glass with a series of painted pictures which were projected one by one as the slide was moved sideways through the lantern. Later long slides included panoramic slides, where movement of the slide enabled more of a panoramic view to been seen, and subjects such as military processions, where the procession would pass through the viewer’s sight.