Magic lantern slide of a fire starting to burn through the shutters covering the windows of a shop next door to a tailor's. It is night and the streets are deserted apart from two policemen, one of whom looks as if he is blowing his whistle to raise the alarm. Magic lantern shows began towards the end of the 17th century but only became more widespread and popular in the 19th century with the improvement in lamp sources. The shows could range from simple didactic presentations (a favourite topic was the demon drink) to sophisticated shows using double or triple lanterns to produce moving and disolving images on the screen and, in the case of Phantasmagoria, an eerie, magical experience.
© National Museum of Science & Media / Science & Society Picture Library