Burner for magic lantern using oil as an illuminant.

Oil was the earliest illuminant available for the magic lantern and it continued to be popular even after more efficient illuminants were introduced because of its simplicity of use. A variety of oils were used, including vegetable, sperm and other whale oils, as well as kerosene. To obtain maximum illumination care had to be taken in keeping the wick trimmed and in the positioning of the burner within the lamp housing of the lantern.

The manufacturing date of this particular burner is unknown.

While the invention of the magic lantern is generally seen to be in the 17th century, its greatest popularity as an optical projector spans the late 18th Century to the early decades of the 20th Century. It was used both as a means of entertainment and education.

This lantern burner 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

Hexagonal brass lantern base. There is an ornate lattice work (geometric pattern) brass ring on top of the base, in the centre of which is the wick.

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