A Touch of Glass - A Victorian Magic Lantern Show

posted by Ian Lewis in Club Meetings

Ah! The old magic lantern..... takes me back to me childhood - no - only kidding - not quite that old! But here we were - on possibly the wettest day this autumn - braving the lashing rain and the non-existent river-crossing to experience the visual wonder of the 19th century!

Our magic lantern evening was provided courtesy of two experts in that field - Gordon Casbeard and Tony Brown. And just to make sure that no-one was "done" under the Trades Description Act - there at the back of the hall was a magnificent polished wood and brass magic lantern.

These things were the Victorian equivalent of our 3-D cinema - even providing us with moving images care of handles or slidey-bits to activate the animation slides! You can imagine the effect on audiences who'd never experienced projected images!

Gordon and Tony demonstrated the different types of slides - the ones used to instil morals and stop us going off the rails - the ones to make us laugh - the ones that told a story and, of course, the documentary ones that showed people places they'd never seen or even imagined. There was a wonderful set of photographs of London in Victorian times - many of the places still recognisable today (with a bit of creative imagination!). Some of the slides brought us into the 20th century - even as comparatively recently as the second world war!

The technological and artistic skills that went into the making of some of the slides was amazing as they displayed intricate hand-coloured pictures. Towards the end of the evening we were shown some kaleidoscopic moving slides - which must have left Victorian audiences completely bemused to say the least!

Thank you very much Gordon and Tony for bringing your superb magic lantern show to Whitchurch - it was great to get back to the roots of the projected image and to have such an entertaining evening!


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