English mahogany and brass bi-unial magic lantern

United Kingdom, c. 1880

Object On display
Photograph by Egmont Contreras, ACMI.

The magic lantern is an important ancestor of cinema. Developed in the 1600s, magic lanterns use a light source, lenses and transparent slides to project religious, educational or entertaining scenes and stories.

Originally, lanternists used candles or gaslight to illuminate their slides, which usually limited their projections to one lens. When limelight was invented in the 1800s, it not only produced brighter, clearer projections but also allowed lanternists to control the light source, leading to more creative approaches and inventions. One was the bi-unial lantern, like this one, which uses two lenses to superimpose different slides onto the same screen to create the illusion of time or movement.

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Not in ACMI's collection

On display until

16 February 2031

ACMI: Gallery 1



Maker not documented

Production places
United Kingdom
Production dates
c. 1880

Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier

Curatorial section

The Story of the Moving Image → Moving Pictures → MI-02. Play and Illusion


151398 times

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If you would like to cite this item, please use the following template: {{cite web |url=https://acmi.net.au/works/100540--english-mahogany-and-brass-bi-unial-magic-lantern/ |title=English mahogany and brass bi-unial magic lantern |author=Australian Centre for the Moving Image |access-date=1 March 2024 |publisher=Australian Centre for the Moving Image}}