Magic lantern body and lens, circa 1857. [composite image] . Rouse Hill House & Farm Collection, Sydney Living Museums. Photo © Jamie North

Other lantern slides

As well as moveable comic slides the Rouse Hill House collection includes two examples of another type of mechanical slide: slides that incorporated a rack and pinion mechanism to create the circular movement of one slide over another.

By turning a handle attached to the rackwork, a slide titled ‘Aquarium’ could produce an effect of fish swimming around in circles. A brilliant geometrical design could produce an effect similar to a kaleidoscope when rotated. A variety of patterns could be produced by turning the handle slowly, then quickly, backwards and forwards. These designs were called chromotropes.

Newton & Co, like other manufacturers of lantern slides, also produced a number of general views as simple timber-mounted slides: landscapes; city streets; monuments and landmarks; and natural wonders. Two such slides survive at Rouse Hill House: a finely painted view of the Campanile di Giotto in the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy, and a delicate painting titled ‘Plains of Lawgiving’. This slide was one of nearly 70 ‘views in the Holy Land and Eqypt’ published by Newton & Co in the 1860s.

There are two incomplete broken slides of views: one of the Aurora Borealis and the other of the Eddystone Lighthouse. Both views were popular lantern slide images, produced in more than one format as single slides or as one slide in a series. The Eddystone Lighthouse fragments at Rouse Hill depict the lighthouse on a moonlit night, beacon blazing. It might have been paired with a daytime view showing ships passing or a view of a storm at sea with ships wrecked but the evidence of its original format is now lost.

  • Automated timber and brass framed circular glass lantern slide hand painted kaleidoscope. Timber and brass handle operates secondary plate producing optical effect. Frame stamped with manufacturer's details and slide number inscribed on top edge in black

    1/8 - Rack and pinion mechanical lantern slide: chromotrope

  • Automated timber and brass framed circular glass lantern slide featuring fish and other marine creatures. Timber and brass handle operates secondary plate allowing the fish to move.

    2/8 - Rack and pinion mechanical slide: aquarium

  • A timber framed, circular glass, static lantern slide featuring a hand painted scene of Florence.

    3/8 - Lantern slide: titled ‘Florence Campanilla Italy’

  • A timber framed, circular glass, static lantern slide featuring a hand painted Arabian scene, or possibly the Atlas Mountains of North Africa.

    4/8 - Lantern slide: titled ‘Plains of Lawgiving’

  • A broken glass panel from a magic lantern slide featuring a hand-drawn and coloured night view of a lighthouse on a storm-wracked coastline. The slide is broken into four pieces with some sections missing.

    5/8 - Lantern slide, broken: Eddystone Lighthouse

  • A broken glass panel from magic lantern slide featuring a hand-drawn and coloured image of an ice field with a representation of the aurora borealis in the sky above mountains. The slide is broken into five pieces with some sections missing.

    6/8 - Lantern slide, broken: Aurora Borealis

  • One section of timber slide frame and fourteen fragments of glass from magic lantern slides, some featuring areas of black paint used to alter the slide scene.

    7/8 - Glass slide and timber fragments

  • Stack of nine wooden framed slides with titles written on frames.

    8/8 - A stack of nine magic lantern comic sliders

About the authors

Head and shoulders photo of woman holding up card to face with conservator's white glove on hand.

Megan Martin

Former Head, Collections & Access

Megan is the former head of Collections & Access at Sydney Living Museums. She has a particular interest in the working of the historical imagination, in teasing out the meanings of objects in museums collections and in crafting the stories that can be recovered/discovered through a close reading of those items of material culture.

Portrait of woman against background of prickly pear foliage.

Holly Schulte

Curator Digital Assets

Holly is the Curator Digital Assets with Sydney Living Museums where she is part of the Collections & Access team.