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Projector - Magic Lantern, Biunial, circa 1880-1910 Object Reg. No: HT 26829

Summary:
Incomplete wood and brass projector was used to view lantern slides. It is of rather crude workmanship, with visible screws used to put the panels together. It is by an unknown maker.

It is believed that the biunial was first conceived by E.G. Wood who was partner with the London instrument makers Horne and Thornthwaite until he left in 1855, The biunial lantern is a system of projection where two lanterns are inbuilt, one on top of the other. This form of projection became possible once the more powerful limelight illuminants were used and quickly became popular. By 1888 it was recorded that over 60 models were being produced, presumable in Britain. The biunial allowed for special effects such as dissolving views to be created by adjusting the brightness of the illuminant in each system.

While the invention of the magic lantern is generally seen to be in the 17th century, its greatest popularity as an optical projector spans the late 18th century to the early decades of the 20th century. It was used both as a means of entertainment and education.

This lantern projector is part of the Francis Collection of pre-cinematic apparatus and ephemera, acquired by the Australian and Victorian Governments in 1975. David Francis was the curator of the National Film and Sound Archive of the British Film Institute as well as being a co-founder of the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which was operational between 1988 and 1999.
Description:
Biunial lantern with wooden body and brass detailing. X2 complete pinion and rack lens tubes. Condensers x2 insitu. Some oxidation to brass front plates. Both lateral sides have x1 hinged side-swing door into top and bottom illumination chambers (ie 2 each side). Each door features circular blue glass viewing hole with brass frame and brass swing cover. Frame detailing to lower door on right lateral side split at handle. Top frame detailing of same door split and missing. Rectangular wooden base plate is damaged to the front and right lateral corner. Right lateral side is missing handle and front and back handle holders. Left lateral side is missing handle and front handle holder. Back brass handle holder insitu. Two wooden handle rods and x3 brass handle holders loose within lower illumination chamber. Metal roof and chimney/cowl missing. Back wall of lantern chamber features x2 A shaped apertures leading into top and bottom illumination chambers. Interior of illumination chambers (top/bottom) metal lined. Each illumination chamber has metal floor with side runners for sliding in illuminants. Illuminants are missing.
Acquisition Information:
Loan & Subsequent Donation from Australian Film Institute (AFI)
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 460 mm (Height), 210 mm (Width), 500 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: projectors, magic lanterns, pre-cinema moving images, lantern projectors
Themes this item is part of: Francis Collection, Images & Image Making Collection, Leisure Collection
Primary Classification: COMMUNICATIONS
Secondary Classification: Audio-Visual Systems
Tertiary Classification: image production equipment
Collector: Mr David Francis, London, Middlesex, England, 1990
Date Made: circa 1880-1910
Bibliography:
  1. [Book], Stephen Herbert, Richard Crangle, David Robinson, Encyclopaedia of the Magic Lantern, The Magic Lantern Society, 2001, 2001, 39-40 Pages

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