The Optical Magic Lantern Journal (August 1892)

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90 __—*‘The Optical Magic Lantern Journal and Photographic Enlarger. Magic Lantern Matters,* By W. I. Cuapwicx. On the present occasion I shall not have much to say about the magic lantern anterior to the introduction of Marcy's Sciopticon (from America) by the late W. B. Woodbury. Of course it is quite true that we had lanterns before the sciopticon, and these were of two types, one for burning oil which was nothing more than a toy—and a poor one at that—quite unsuitable for anything more than showing painted slips on screens very little larger than a pocket handkerchief ; the other was a big clumsy oxy-hydrogen lantern, which was chiefly used for Sunday-school meetings, mechanics institutions and by a few private exhibitors and lecturers. We had occasionally a good deal of talk about using the lantern for educational purposes, but there was very little practical work done in this direction; not many amateur photographers made lantern slides, or paid much attention to them in those days. But there were a few commercia! firms who produced lantern slides, and the introduction of the sciopticon must have vastly increased their business, for that beautiful little instrument not only filled up the gap between the already existing instruments: it did more, it was capable of taking the place of both ; with its two-wick oil-lamp it was possible to exhibit photographs in the drawing-room on from five to six feet and up to seven feet screens without much trouble, and also by the same instrument, using limelight, the largest screens were just as brilliantly illuminated as by the most ponderous lantern ever constructed ; indeed, the sciopticon came at the right time, it was just the very thing that was wanted, and it became so popular as to be almost a part of every amateur’s paraphernalia. I believe it to be a fact that Woodbury did take provisional patent protection for the sclopticon lamp in this country, and that during the first year they were placed upon the market over 400 were supplied, but by an oversight, or we may say neglect, for Woodbury was not a business man, the patent was not completed. Other firms took advantage of this, aud very soon placed similar lanterns before the public at a slightly reduced price. I am informed that one firm alone supplied 1,000 of these in the following year. We had not long to wait before several so-called improvements were introduced and patented, but it may be said that nearly all the oil-burning lamps for lantern purposes used to-day are more or less the progeny of the sclopticon. *South Manchester Photographic Society. The sciopticon was originally constructed to burn one-and-a-half-inch wicks, placed edgeways to the condenser, and with the exception of some improvements in the combustion chamber, made by Mr. George Smith, the present proprietor and manufacturer, it remains in its original state. Some of the so-called improved lamps are made to use three, four, and as mauy as five wicks, and these up to two inches and two and a half inches wide, either placed parallel, converging, or diverging, and some again take other forms, the intention being to increase the illuminating power. Now, if it were necessary, I could give my experiences of many years with nearly all these multiple wick-lamps, and down to the latest patent before the public; but, to be brief, I sce no advantage in them for the purpose for which oil-lamps are suitable. There undoubtedly is in some an increase in the size of the flame; but for lantern purposes a large volume of flame is not required. It is intensity that is necessary, and the intensity must be in the right place, which is the focus of the condenser, and is confined to a very small area, and it can be shown to be a positive disadvantage to have more volume than is required. Then, again, the enormous heat given off by some of these powerful lamps, resembling a roaring furuace, is another very great disadvantage. Added to this is the difficulty to keep the wicks burning evenly, by reason of unequal combustion, for very soon the wicks begin to “fork,” one flaine gets higher or lower than the rest, the thing begins to smoke, to smell, the light goes bad, and the whole affair has to be readjusted ; but with the two-wick lamp there is none of these troubles. It is quite easy to adjust the lamp at the commencement, so as not to require the slightest attention for three or four hours. It has been stated by some amateur lanternists that with So-and-So’s or somebody else’s lamp they have exhibited ten-feet pictures, and we know there are some gentlemen who are always cleverer than anybody else, and sometimes these gentlemen are so carried away by their enthusiasin as to believe they have done something big, or, at any rate, to tell us so. I can light my dining-room by a farthing candle, but I do not think you would care to be entertained at dinner by such an illumination. Then, we have somebody’s lamp compared toa limelight. Well, of course, we can compare the light of a candle to the electric are light; but for equality of illumination the comparison is a very poor one. The limit in size of picture shown by any oil lamp, is in my opinion, six feet square where | photographs are the pictures, but it is possible to select a few photographs of certain subjects