The Magic, or, more properly, the Projecting lantern, is an optical instrument, consisting of a case of wood or metal, enclosing a lamp or other illuminating agent, the light of which being gathered and condensed by a suitable condensing lens, and directed upon a small transparent picture, so powerfully illuminates it that its image, brilliantly lighted and greatly magnified, may be projected upon a distant screen by means of an objective - a combination of lenses in a tube - similar or identical in construction with a photographic portrait lens.

The modern projecting lantern, now a scientific instrument, bears very little if any resemblance to the earlier magic lantern, which was a rude construction, and, as its name implies, was first used by magicians, or professors of the magic arts, as a means of imposing upon the ignorance and superstition of their times. Later it became a toy for the amusement of young people. And occasionally it furnished amusement for popular assemblies, at what were called Magic lantern exhibitions, usually the projection upon a screen of greatly enlarged images of a series of comic pictures painted in brilliant colors upon glass.

The perfected instrument is now used in advanced schools and colleges for illustrating scientific lectures, and more popularly by public lecturers to illustrate by luminous projection scenes and incidents of travel, etc., without which the mere narrative would be exceedingly dry and devoid of interest.

Since dry plate photography became a popular amusement, the projecting lantern has greatly increased in public favor, and the members of the amateur photographic societies and camera clubs throughout the country are interested and engaged in the production, as slides for the lantern, of views of almost everything in animate or inanimate life.

The projecting lantern, in its highest development, is a complicated and costly instrument, the different designs and constructions of which have received, each, a long and high-sounding name, the antepenultimate of which is usually of Greek or Latin origin, such as panopticon, sciopticon, stereopticon, etc., etc., and requiring such powerful illumination as can only be furnished by the oxy-hydrogen or calcium lights or electricity.

A new instrument, however, suitable both in cost and in means of illumination for amateurs and amateur societies, has lately been introduced by Messrs. E. & H. T. Anthony & Co., which, to be in the fashion, has received the name Triplexicon.

The Triplexicon is the perfection of oil-burning lanterns; in it refined petroleum oil is burned in a burner having three wicks; the centre wick being opposite the centre of the condensing lens, and in its optical axis, entirely removes the most objectionable fault of such lanterns, the central shadow or flare.

The Triplexicon, therefore, being of its class the most perfect instrument, and requiring little if any skill to manage it, becomes the appropriate instrument for the amateur photographer whereby to exhibit in a very acceptable manner the trophies of his skill in the use of the camera and alkaline pyro.

A gentleman thoroughly familiar with all the various modifications of the magic lantern, in describing the Triplexicon says of it:

"We have seen many lanterns in our time, and in several respects this eclipses them all, especially those for use with kerosene oil only. The lamp itself is completely shielded with a well-made hood of Russia iron, and is provided with the patent triplex wick, which affords the utmost illumination obtainable with any oil light. The back and front of the hood are closed interiorly by glass plates, specially annealed to withstand extreme heat, and the rear one is again closed by perforated sheet iron, covered interiorly with a highly polished metallic reflector, back of which is inserted an eye piece of ruby glass. The latter enables one to always observe the condition of the flame and wicks, and regulate them without disturbing or discontinuing the action of the instrument. The chimney is made telescopic, to pack more compactly."

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"The diffusing lens, specially constructed for the purpose, is mounted on a cylindrical slide to extend, if necessary, the focal distance, while the condensing lenses, which are of four inch diameter and can be separated for cleaning, arc inserted in a corresponding slide within the wooden case.

"The case itself is quite compact, and appears very ornamental in its highly polished mahogany, with its little bronzed ventilators on either side at the bottom. The metal front is burnished and has a spiral spring adapter for the admission of the slides. A substantial wooden box contains all, and serves also as a table for the instrument while in use. Altogether this is the finest example of its kind we have yet seen; it will also serve admirably for enlargements with the gelatino-bromide paper."

Lantern Slides

The pictures prepared for projection by the magic lantern are made on glass of one size, invariably 3¼ X4 inches, and are copies of negatives made by transmitted light and by two methods. When the negative is made by the detective, or pocket cameras and on plates 3¼x4¼, the positives or slides may be made by contact printing; that is, the prepared plate is placed in contact with the negative, film sides together or touching in a printing frame, the back pressed closely down and the plate exposed to the light of a gas or lamp flame - daylight is too strong - for from five to ten seconds, according to the density of the negative; the plate is then developed perfectly with ferrous oxalate until the picture is seen clearly on the surface; when the shadows have become sufficiently dense, or before there is any discoloration of the high lights, remove and wash and fix in hypo and alum. (See Roche's formula in article on Transparencies.) Remember that all parts of the pictures that represent the whites should be clear glass.

When the negative is larger than the slide, then the copy must be made in the Camera. (See article on transparencies.)

It is claimed by some that slides made by the collodion process are superior to those made on dry plates, but in my own personal experience I have found Anthony's transparency dry plates superior to all others and better than collodion.

To protect the film surface of the slide, thin, clear glass of a corresponding size is placed against the film surface with a paper mat (the opening of which should closely correspond with the outline of the picture) between, and the two bound together neatly with adhesive paper.