Collecting Pre-cinema Ephemera

Goto photo ephemera

Domestic Magic Lantern show with Peepshow projection

Collecting Pre-Cinema Ephemera

Collecting is important, collecting ephemera is perhaps even more important. The ephemera items are able to unveil the secrets and stories behind our precious items.

The wonderful lithograph on the right depict a domestic Magic Lantern show. It is very interesting to see all the family members in the darkened room where this optical event takes place.
The projected image on the sreen shows a Harlequin demonstrating his
Rarekiek, the Dutch word for peepshow.

Images like this unveil part of the secret on how the apparatus we collect where used. The double theme, magic lantern and peepshow, makes this a most collectable ephemera in the pre-cinema field.

The chiaroscuro effect in the lithograph, caused by the open side door of the lantern is what makes the image more dramatic. It also create a beautiful against-the-light effect. Presumably, a monkey is seen on top of the rarekiek.

Click on the Magic Lantern show image to see the origin of the Peepshow
Peepshow = VUE d'OPTIQUE = rarekiek = mondo nUovo = GUCKKASTEN



  Domestic Magic Lantern projection of Chromatrope  
French publicity postcard by ERA. This, presumable Belgian, postcard shows three children playing with a toy magic lantern to project a chromatrope.

Between front and back of the postcard there is a revolving disc to imitate a chromatrope at work.
Suchlike trading cards illustrate the popularity of the Magic Lantern at the end of the 19th. Century. Mouve mouse over to see back of card.
The firm  ERA,  was manufacturing margarine.

Other themes in the same series are a Valentine scene, a cupido with a burning heart, an airplane. All three card have a similar revolving discs, in case of the latter, the disc became the propeller.

Click on the postcard to see toy Magic Lanterns




     Magic Lantern in Simon Witgeest's conjuring book .

"Het nieuw vermeerdert natuurlyk tooverboek ofte speel-toneel der konsten" (tenth edition 1781)

This popular conjuring book was written by Simon Witgeest.
The first edition of this book is 1679, the last circa 1830.

Witgeest illustrate a curious looking Magic Lantern, together with a long slide showing circular images. The text describes how the lantern was used.

This original 17th. Century conjuring book was very popular. At least 17 different editions in Dutch are known and 15 German editions between 1702 and 1798.
The book also describes the basics of the Camera Obscura.

Although many editions where printed in subsequent centuries, an original copy is difficult to find. (Right 
©Jan Parret collection)

The book still remains popular since at least two 20th. Century Dutch photographic reprints are known.
A reprint of the first 1679 edition was done by Sijthoff-Leiden, 1967.
A reprint of the 11th. edition was done by Ripova (no date).

Obviously, references to optical devices or often found in vintage conjuring books.
For example, the technique of smoke projection used for Phantasmagoria effects.



  Chambers Encyclopaedia 1778  

In the history of the Encyclopaedia, the  Chambers' Encyclopaedia is of huge historical importance. this was the basic inspirational source for  Diderot & d'Alembert's  Encyclopaedia.
Because the latter where dissatisfied about the Chambers Cyclopædia, they started their own major cyclopedic project.
The Chambers' Cyclopædia is also the first to use cross-references.

The history of Encyclopaedia's is interesting in it's own right but the frontespice of the 1787 Chambers' edition is shown here because of the magic lantern seen at the bottom of the engraving.

"The Academy of Arts and sciences" by Sébastien Leclerc seems to be the inspirational source for the Chambers' frontespice.
A good article, "Sébastien Leclerc and the British Encyclopaedists" can be found in the RETE mailing list.

Left and above: Magic Lantern in Chambers' Cyclopædia.

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