The magic lantern slides (hyalotypes) in this collection date from late 1850s to early 1900s. The glass slides depict a variety of lighthouse scenes from around the UK including some exhibitions that featured lighthouses.
There are also many different sizes of magic lantern slides, however the ones in this collection tend to be 3.5 by 3.5 inches.
The history of Magic Lantern Slides can be traced back to the mid 1600s.
In the early years of the twentieth century glass lantern slides were a popular form of entertainment, known as "magic lantern" exhibitions.
The image header above shows an Magic Lantern Slide Projector, at first glance you would assume it was a small stove due to the size and design. It has a metal cover now, where once a vent stack on the top would have let heat and smoke out. The outside is made from metal and this became very hot due to the light source heat that was produced from the lamp inside. Now an electric bulb is the source of illumination, originally it would have usually been fuelled from burning oil or gas, a burning a piece of calcium, and then electricity. The current conversion of the lamp was to the LED bulb that doesn't produce heat so the projector can be worked easily for a much longer period of time.
The light was projected through the glass lens barrel on the front of the Magic Lantern Projector.
The slides and slide shows continued to be popular into the 20th century and were the precursors of the modern slide projectors. Today the latest projector can fit in the palm of your hand, working wireless and displaying content streamed from a mobile smartphone. More information about magic lantern slides can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_lantern