Magic Lantern and Lantern Slide Catalog Collection

The Magic Lantern (also known as optical lantern or stereopticon) is a projection device: a slide is projected with the help of lenses, condensers and artificial light onto a screen, wall, or other opaque surface. First mentioned by Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens in 1659, it developed into one of the most popular optical media to entertain and instruct. Early film projectors could be seen as a direct “derivative”, adding a “kinetoscope attachment” while using the magic lantern as light source. The slide projector and digital beamer with its corresponding slides or PowerPoint presentations can be seen as its successors.


Since its invention, the magic lantern was used for entertainment, education, research and as a children’s toy. They amused and instructed young and old, poor and rich. Traveling entertainers and lecturers brought the lantern to peasants in the village and citizens in town. Slides were used for a variety of occasions: on fairgrounds and in private homes, in theaters and churches, in society club houses and community halls, in venues for popular education, and in schools and university lecture halls. Hence the incredibly rich slide collections that can be found in museums and archives, in the cellars of university buildings and in the attics of religious convents.

Magic lantern and lantern slide distribution catalogs are rare items and mostly held in private collections. These catalogs can help archivists and collectors to identify magic lanterns and lantern slides and they also enrich knowledge of the development of the apparatus and projection technology. The illustrations give insight into the way in which the apparatus worked and what lantern slides, lanterns and accessories such as light sources, special lenses and projection equipment looked like.

The promotional tone in the descriptions, although not to be taken at face value, tells us a lot about audience expectations, the intentions of producers, the work of lanternists and technological problems (that the advertised apparatus had supposedly solved).

This collection was initiated by the European research project “A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning”. Until May 2018, project members will enrich this collection regularly. Additional catalogs in all languages and from all contexts are more than welcome -- just contact the MHDL!


Appareils et Fournitures générales pour la Photographie (Equipment and General Supplies for Photography, ca. 1890)


From A. Molteni:

Vues sur verre pour projection, Catalogue 32 (Magic Lantern Slide Catalog, A. Molteni, 1880)
Tarif No. 39 Lanternes Magiques (Magic Lantern Slide Catalog, A. Molteni, 1880)

From Radiguet & Massiot:

Projections Molteni, Catalogue No 55 - Éditions des Diapositives pour Conférences Scientifiques et Mondaines (Radiguet & Massiot, 1894)
Catalogue No. 104bis: Vues de voyages et explorations en projections lumineuses (Radiguet & Massiot, 1900)
Catalogue No 105: Classement méthodique des diapositives pour Projections Lumineuses (Radiguet & Massiot, 1900)
Éditions de Diapositives pour Conférences Scientifiques et Mondaines: Catalogue des Séries Spécialement composées pour Conférences & Cours d'Adultes (Radiguet & Massiot, 1905)
Éditions des Diapositives pour Conférences Scientifiques et Mondaines: Catalogue Général des vues scientifiques & littéraries classées suivant un ordre méthodique et rationnel - 1er Fascicule Astronomie (Radiguet & Massiot, 1905)
No. 38 - Projections Molteni - Éditions des Diapositives pour Conférences Scientifiques et Mondaines: Catalogue Général des vues scientifiques & littéraries classées suivant un ordre méthodique et rat. 2e Fascicule Physique & Chimie (Radiguet & Massiot, 1907)
Catalogue Général No 89 des Appareils et Accessoired usités en projection: IVe Partie Cinématographie (Radiguet & Massiot, 1910)

From Les Fils d'Émile Deyrolle:

Catalogue de Micrographie Les Fils D'Émile Deyrolle (Emile Deyrolle, 1900)
Diapositifs sur verre pour projections. Photographies et Microphotographies (Les Fils d'Émile Deyrolle, 1912)
Liste complementaire des photographies sur verre pour projections lumineuses [Deyrolle Lantern Slide Catalogue, 1921]
Catalogue de Minéralogie et Géologie, Les Fils D'Émile Deyrolle (Emile Deyrolle, 1929)

From other manufacturers:

E. Mazo Catalogue No 11. Fabrique d'appareils de projection, tableaux mécanisés (E. Mazo, 1898)
Appareils à Projections Lumineuses fixes et animées [G. Gilmer's Magic Lantern Accessories and Slides, 1900]
Catalogue Lunetterie Optique [French Society of Opticians Magic Lantern Catalog, 1901]
E. Mazo Catalogue No 46
Fabrique d'appareils d'accessoires et vues pour la projection, Catalogue No. 50 [E. Mazo Slide and Accessories Catalog, 1912]


From Edition Liesegang, Düsseldorf:

Liesegangs Glasphotogramme für Lichtbilder-Apparate [Ed. Liesgang Magic Lantern Catalog, 1903]
Lichtbilder in Woodbury-Druck [Woodbury Process Lantern Slide Catalog, 1905]
Nachtrag zum Katalog kunstgeschichtlicher Diapositive [Addendum to Art History Catalog, 1907]
Die Projektions-Kunst [The Art of Projection, Liesegang, 1909]
Lichtbilder-Serien für patriotische Veranstaltungen in Kriegervereinen [Lantern Slides for Veterans' Association Patriotic Events, 1910]
Eine Quelle der Unterhaltung: Janus-Epidiaskop [A Source of Entertainment and Education: the Janus Epidiascope, ca. 1910]
Lichtbilder für den zoologischen und anatomischen Unterricht nach Mikrophotogrammen [Microscopic Slides for Zoological and Anatomical Instruction, 1910]
Neue Aufnahmen von Lichtbildern für den zoologischen und anatomischen Unterricht nach Mikrophotogrammen [New Microscopic Slides for Zoological and Anatomical Instruction, 1910]
Kunstgeschichtliche Sammlung für höhere Lehranstalten [Art History Collection for Higher Education, 1911]
Bericht über Liesegangs Universal-Projektions-Apparat [Technical Report on Liesgang's Universal Projection Machine, 1913]
Projektions-Bilder auf Filmstreifen [Projection Images on Filmstrips, ca. 1920]

From Ernst Plank (Nuremberg):

Preis-Liste 1902. Laterna Magica, Nebelbild-Apparate, Modell-Dampfmaschinen Heissluft-Motore
Preisliste über optische, mechanische und elektrische Waren, Physikalische Spiele und Lehrmittel: Abteilung I. Laterna Magica, Projektions-Apparate, Postkarten-Cameras, Kinematographen, Lupen und Lesegläser, Extra-Laterna Magica-Bilder und bewegliche Verwandlungsbilder, Films
Katalog über optische, mechanische und elektrische Spielwaren und Lehrmittel: Metall-Miniaturen, Metall-Bauksten 'E.P. Modello', Nähmaschinen

From Gebrüder Bing / Bing Brothers:

Bing Optische Spielwaaren und Lehrmittel (1902)
Special Catalogue and Price List of Instructive Mechanical, Optical, and Electrical Toys [Gebrüder Bing, English version, 1902]
Gebrüder Bing: Instructive Optical Toys (1906)

From other manufacturers:

Jean Schoenner - untitled catalog of toy lanterns (1880)
Jean Schoenner Jubiläums Katalog (1875-1900)
Georges Carette & Co. Catalog (1902)


From Merkelbach & Co., Amsterdam:

Merkelbach & Co: Prijs-Courant No. 1 [Merkelbach & Co. Price Catalog, 1896]
Catalogus Van Stereoscoopplaten [Merkelbach & Co. Stereoscopic Slide Catalog, 1903]
Merkelbach & Co. Prijscourant [Merkelbach & Co. Price Catalog, ca. 1909]

From other manufacturers:

Catalogus van Lantaarnplaatjes, Lichtbeelden op Filmstrooken enz. [C.A.P. Ivens Magic Lantern Catalog, 1925]
Catalogus van Lantaarnplaatjes [Zaalberg Bros. Slide Catalog, 1920]
Catalogus der Lichtbeeldenvereeniging [Dutch Association for Lantern Slides Catalog, 1912-13]
Prijscourant van benoodigdheden voor fotografie en projectie [Van Senus Price Catalog, 1926]

United Kingdom

A Compendium of astronomy: being a concise description of the most interesting phenomena of the heavens (1849)
J. Theobald and Company's extra special illustrated catalogue of magic lanterns, slides and apparatus (From the smallest Toy Lanterns and Slides to the most elaborate Professional Apparatus (c. 1900)
Newton's lantern slide catalogue: section 2 -- science, astronomy, physics, chemistry etc. (ca. 1920)
Newton's lantern slide catalogue: section 3. Natural History, Agriculture and Nature Study (ca. 1920)
Newton's lantern slide catalogue: no. 4 (ca. 1920)
Newton's lantern slide catalogue: section 7 -- Industries and Manufactures (ca. 1920)
Newton's lantern slide catalogue: section 9 -- art, literature, and miscellaneous (ca. 1920)
Catalogue of Optical Projection Apparatus: Part 1 - Optical Lanterns, Etc. (Newton & Co., 1938)
Flatters and Garnett Lantern Slide Catalog (1924)

United States

McIntosh Battery and Optical Company Illustrated Catalogue (1890)
T.H. McAllister's Catalogue of Stereopticons, Dissolving-View Apparatus and Magic Lanterns (1887)
List of Slides used in Secret Societies: Stereopticons, Moving Picture Machines, Accessories and Slides (1899)
Montgomery Ward Catalogue of Magic Lanterns, Stereopticons, and Moving Picture Machines (ca. 1899)
W.B. Moore's Illustrated and Descriptive Catalogue and Price List of Stereopticons, Lantern Slides, Moving Picture Machines, Accessories for Projection (1902)
Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. Projection Apparatus (1917)