Magic Lantern Projectors



2015-06-26 10:38:15

Magic lantern projectors were image projectors that were originally developed in the 17th century, but remained popular up until the 20th century.

Brief history and description

Magic lanterns were image projectors that were originally developed in the 17th century, but remained popular up until the 20th century.

A question of who originally invented the magic lantern projector remains disputed up until this day, as some believe the inventor could have been Christiaan Huygens (who invented the projector in the late 1650s) or Giovanni Fontana (a Venetian engineer who created a lantern that projected images during the 15th century).

Magic lantern projectors were typically used in movie theatres but were also commonly used by magicians as well. Magic lantern projectors can come in a variety of different styles, shapes and sizes, and some may feature different types of material such as brass or iron.

Guide for collectors

Tri-unial magic lantern projectors as well as Edwardian 3mm hand-cracked cine magic lantern projectors are considered to be the most rare and valuable.

Restoration of a magic lantern projector is recommended, but only if there is noticeable damage. However, restoring a magic lantern projector may decrease its value.

For more information regarding magic lantern projectors, visit the Magic Lantern Society.


WestLicht Photographica Auction in Vienna, Austria sold a tri-unial Magic Lantern projector with a detachable top lamp-house (circa 1890) for €13,500 in November of 2006.

Gorringes in Lewes, England sold an Edwardian 3mm hand-cracked cine Magic Lantern projector for £550 in June of 2005.

Bonham's in Knightsbridge sold a Bioscope type 35mm Magic Lantern projector featuring the label "A. Franks, Manufacturing Optician, Manchester" for 780 in May of 2005.

Auction Team Breker in Koeln, Germany sold:

  • A wooden Phantasmagorian Magic Lantern projector (circa 1870) for €4,400 in October of 2005.
  • A Kinematador Magic Lantern projector (circa 1897) for €2,600 in March of 2011.

Mickey Mouse Magic Lantern projectors are worth around $125.

A brass and iron Magic Lantern projector (circa 19th century) is worth around $175.

A large wooden Magic Lantern projector is usually worth around €135.

(All values based on auction results from

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