Object of Interest

Nursery Magic Lantern

The magic lantern has been about for centuries, since the 17th to be precise, and was used, as Pepys says in his diary, to “shew tricks”. Initially these were used as entertainment, mainly for children, but with the development of photography the magic lantern for adults gradually took over from the ‘nursery’ items. Small versions, such as this one, continued, however, to be used as children’s playthings well into the 20th century, using minute oil burners as illumination (as shown here) and hand-painted slides. 

A comprehensive article on the magic lantern, both for children and adults, is to be published in the next issue of the Friends’ magazine “Chronicles” which is due out in March 2018.