Magic lantern

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Magic lantern or Lanterna Magica was the ancestor of the modern slide projector.

In the 17th-18th centuries, physicists develop the use of optics and experiment with the system, improving it over the course of time. The impetus to develop the system was the use it found in phantasmagoria performances, especially those of Étienne-Gaspard Robert.

In the 19th century, a thriving trade of itinerant projectionists travels around the United Kingdom with their magic lanterns and a large number of slides to put on shows in towns and villages. Some of the slides came with special effects, by means of extra sections that could slide or rotate across the main plate. One of the most famous of these, very popular with children, was The Rat Swallower, where a series of rats would be seen leaping into a sleeping man's mouth.

Many magicians at the time, such as Albert Edward Smith, included them as part of their act.


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