Virtual Children's Books Exhibits


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Magic Lantern



11.   Laterna Magica. Magic Lantern. Lantern Magique.
Nüremberg: Ernest Plank, between 1875 and 1914.

The firm of Ernest Plank, which was founded in 1866, manufactured magic lanterns for the toy and domestic markets. The purchase of a lantern typically included a wooden box and a set of slides. Some family must have used this model with its miniature paraffin lamp pretty heavily, even though a lantern of this type did not project especially clear or sharp images.

This example in the Cotsen Children's Library still has its box and the lid is reproduced on the left. The Plank firm's trademark, with wings on either side of the initials "EP" within an oval frame, is in the upper right hand corner. Like many toys of German manufacture during this period, the product's name appears in three languages, as it was intended for sale across Europe.

If the history, manufacture, and technology of magic lantern projection sounds fascinating, then you'll enjoy browsing in the Encyclopedia of the Magic Lantern, edited by David Robinson, Stephen Herbert, and Richard Crangle (London: Magic Lantern Society, 2001) or visiting the Society's web site.