Children's toy magic lantern projector set, designed for domestic use with miniature glass slides. 'Standard E.P.' model manufactured by Ernest Plank, Bavaria, Germany, circa 1879. When new this lantern set came in a box complete with the projector, a small spirit lamp, various accessories and an assortment of slides.

The Ernst Plank Company was situated in the German town of Nuremberg, with the business first listed in the Commercial Register of Nuremberg as 'Ernst Plank, Fabrik Optischer und Mechanischer Waren' in 1866. Apart from miniature magic lanterns, the firm made a variety of mechanical toys, including operable stationary steam engines, trains, steamboats and sewing machines produced from pressed tin plate. By the late 19th century Nuremberg had become the largest toy making centre in Europe, with at least eight major manufacturers based there, of which Ernst Plank was the second largest after 'Gebrüder Bing'. Plank's toys were notable for their quality, often being ornate in design and more finely finished that other manufacturers. The factory survived the First World War, but production declined in the 1920s and was sold to the brothers Hans and Fritz Schaller in 1930, who specialised in the manufacture of toy cinematographic projectors & home movie equipment. After World War II, the company became Noris Projecktor GmbH, remaining in business until 1965. Almost all the magic lanterns from Plank are marked with the initials 'E.P.' or the firm's famous trade mark which features a winged wheel above the initials 'E.P.'.

This toy magic lantern set is part of the Francis Collection of pre-cinematic apparatus and ephemera, acquired by the Australian and Victorian Governments in 1975. David Francis was the curator of the National Film and Sound Archive of the British Film Institute as well as being a co-founder of the Museum of the Moving Image in London, which was operational between 1988 and 1999.

Physical Description

Boxed lantern set comprising box, toy lantern and illuminant. The box is a black papered wooden box, with a label featuring a domestic slide show conducted by a boy. Various medals are shown on the lower margin of the label. The toy lantern is a japanned black "E.P. Standard" box toy with ornate feet. It has a side door for access to lamp. A round emblem is fixed onto side door. The illuminant used is a small hurricane oil lamp.

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