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.

How are these works connected?

Explore this constellation

Related works

Content notification

Our collection comprises over 40,000 moving image works, acquired and catalogued between the 1940s and early 2000s. As a result, some items may reflect outdated, offensive and possibly harmful views and opinions. ACMI is working to identify and redress such usages.

Learn more about our collection and our collection policy here. If you come across harmful content on our website that you would like to report, let us know.

Collection

Not in ACMI's collection

On display until

16 February 2031

ACMI: Gallery 1

Credits

creator

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

Collected

151398 times

Please note: this archive is an ongoing body of work. Sometimes the credit information (director, year etc) isn’t available so these fields may be left blank; we are progressively filling these in with further research.

Cite this work on Wikipedia

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}}