Virtual Children's Books Exhibits


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Magic Lantern


1.  The Magic Lantern.
London: W. Spooner, 377 Strand, ca. 1838.
(Spooner's Protean Views, no. 5)

This dioramic print shows a man projecting images using a hand-held magic lantern loaded with a rectangular glass slide. A ghostly outline of a picture appears on the fabric screen behind him. When a source of illumination is placed behind the print, an image of a fiddling devil, his assistant the imp, and a dancing African in knee breeches appears. This second subject was painted on a thin semi-translucent paper pasted on the back of the larger sheet.

Dioramic prints were introduced in London in 1821 by the French photographer Joseph Daguerre. For home viewing on table-top devices, the publisher William Spooner published at least thirty-seven under the series title, Spooner's Protean Views. The subjects were generally pictures of famous buildings, such as the Eddystone Lighthouse seen at different times of day, or of a view that changed into a completely different one, such as Greenwich Hospital transformed into the Battle of Trafalgar. To see a Spooner dioramic print, Jack and Beverley’s Optical Toys site displays the one of Mt. Vesuvius.