Motion of Venus or Mercury magic lantern slide, 19th century.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This combined lever and rotary magic lantern slide, three inches in diameter, is hand-painted and shows the motion of Venus or Mercury. A label attached to the wooden case reads: 'this diagram illustrates the apparent direct and retrograde motion of Venus or Mercury and also its stationery appearance'. Magic lantern shows began towards the end of the 17th century but only became more widespread 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.