Before movies there were magic lanterns or better know as a vintage glass slide projector. Lights, camera, action wasn’t always that easy. Projectors similar to this one were used to project enlarged images on the wall to entertain audiences before the advent of moving pictures. It’s hard to believe a world without movies, the cinema and the Oscars. But there was and people really enjoyed it. Often referred to as a magic lantern because it was able to project images of all kinds on the big screen it was really a stereopticon. Stereo because the slide show was often narrated and sometimes accompanied by music. Optics because it’s all about what you see on the wall. The slides were also made of glass and mostly hand painted. So it was left to the imagination of the artist as to what was painted on the glass. The more creative, the more entertaining for the audience.
Vintage Glass Slide Projector
By the 19th century, the vintage projector was used in theaters, churches, lodges and at home by both children and adults. It was as common as the ice box, now what we call the refrigerator. By 1895, there were close to 60,000 lantern showmen in the United States. It’s estimated that they gave almost 150,000 performances a year to paying customers with the magic lantern. Talk about technology replacing people and jobs. Hopefully, they were all able to jump on the moving picture band wagon. After all, they were the founders of original cinematography. Now turn out the lights as the show is about to begin.