A Fully Operational Vintage Butcher's Boys Own' Magic Lantern, Complete With 7 Boxes of Lantern Slides


Origin: English
Period: Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1910
Height: 9 inches
Length: 19 inches full extended or 12 inches of housing
Depth: 6 inches
Slides:  3.25 x 3.25 inches

A green painted tin magic lantern, with large telescopic brass lens, and an attractive logo painted in gilt on the sides. Inside the box is a light bulb and fitting, with a new cord and plug, which has recently been rewired, earthed and checked for electrical safety. A hinged door closes the box, keeping the illumination from the bulb focused at the slide and through the lens. The slides are placed on a wooden rack, which is then slid into the aperture between two lenses, and when the magic lantern is lit the images are beautifully reproduced onto the wall.

Included with the lantern are seven boxes of slides, each containing 8 slides, so there are 56 slides in total. Five of the boxes include magnificent coloured lithographed slides and were produced by Butcher’s under the ‘Primus’ brand forming part of their famous ‘Junior Lectures’ series: “Jack and the Beanstalk”; “Sweep and the Whitewasher”; “Dick Whittington”; and “Aladdin”. These all come in their original boxes and have accompanying notes to be read to the child whilst the slides are projected. The other three sets of slides are from the ‘Rambles Round London Zoological Gardens’ series, and comprise: Chapter 7 “Upper Ten”; Chapter 9 “Giants and Dwarves” and Chapter 10 “Special Practitioners”, and also come in their original boxes.

W. Butcher and Son was first established in 1866 in Blackheath, London, and sold various photographic apparatus, cameras, cinematographs, magic lanterns and articles connected with the animated picture trade. Many of their lantern slides were purchased from German manufacturers and rebranded for sale in England. In 1913 Butcher’s started using the ‘Primus’ trademark, and in January 1915, they combined with Houghtons Ltd. to form the Houghton-Butcher Manufacturing Company. In 1922 they exhibited at the British Industries Fair.

The magic lantern is the forerunner of the slide projector, and it is one of the most popular inventions of the marvellous world of optical illusion, alongside the Camera Obscura, the Magic Mirror, and various other contraptions that have captivated people for centuries. This example is in very good condition, in full working order, and is ready to amaze and delight anyone who should be lucky enough to witness it!