Prairie on fire, hand-coloured magic lantern slide, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
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 ranged from simple didactic presentations to sophisticated shows using double or triple lanterns to produce moving and dissolving images on the screen. Light would travel through the slide from the magic lantern apparatus, projecting the image.