Homepage 'de Luikerwaal' Magic Lanterns, manufactured by
T.H. McAllister

"Catalogue of Stereopticons Magic Lanterns Moving Picture Machines and Accessories",  November 1905.  T.H. McAllister Manufacturing Optician. 5 1/2" x 8 5/8", 84 pages.  Left page:  "New York Model Magic Lantern".
McALLISTER was a leading American family of optical lantern manufacturers. In 1775 John McAllister emigrated to the USA from Scotland and opened there some years later an enlarged optical business in Philadelphia. From 1798 to 1811 the business trades as McAllister & Mattews, then as McAllister & Son. From 1830 the firm traded under the name John McAllister & Co. and possible that was also the start of their work with magic lanterns. By 1846 they were one of the greatest American dealers in magic lanterns and slides.

From the early 1900s the New York firm gradually concentrated on professional lanterns and moving picture machines. From 1917 the firm continued until 1942 under the trade name McAllister-Keller Co. Inc.


McAllister Optician Cabinet magic lantern with a hand dovetailed walnut/mahogany box. Interior has storage compartment in bottom, possibly for slides, candles, etc. No. 670 in "T. H. McALLISTER'S CATALOGUE OF STEREOPTICONS, DISSOLVING VIEW APPARATUS & MAGIC LANTERNS - 49 NASSAU STREET, NEW YORK - FOR FEBRUARY OF 1898".

Size: Lantern: Approx 22" high overall x 14" long at base x 6 3/4" wide at base (56 x 35,5 x 17 cm). 
Box: 15" high x 15" wide x 9 1/2" deep (38 x 38 x 24 cm). Compartment on interior bottom 2 1/4" (6 cm) deep.


This is a very large 26" x 17" x 6 1/2" wide (66 x 43 x 16,5 cm) magic lantern. The name McALLISTER OPTICIAN NEW YORK is stamped in gold lettering in the side and front of the japanned black tin lantern. There is a side door with a twisting handle. The lens holder tapers; this lantern is also known with a cylindrical lens holder.


McAllister's 'GEM' Magic lantern. The lantern stands 13" (33 cm) tall and has a shiny black finish with gold stencil print. There is a hinged door in back to access the oil lamp or candle. It has a large condenser lens inside and a projection lens that focuses by sliding the lens tube in or out.
Below: GEM with shove in chimney because the oil lamp was exchanged for an electric bulb. The lantern packs compactly in the wood box. There is an informational sheet attached to the inside of the box lid mentioning selling points as well as directions for use.

Rare American Magic Lantern for 3 1/4" wooden slides complete with its original burner and original lens. It has an applied brass label to the body of the lantern with text that reads 'T. H. McAllister / Mfg Optician, N.Y. /Patented / April 6, 1886'.

The magic lantern measures approx 13 3/4” tall (to the top of the chimney), 14” long overall and 5 1/2” at its widest (the slide holder). This is a vertical barrel lantern with a rather heavy and high quality system of lenses. The lantern is supported by two cast iron feet at the front and a tin box at the rear into which the fuel tank, burner, vertical body and chimney slide. There is a very large, convex lens that mounts in the horizontal tube behind the slide holder and a camera quality brass lens at the front of the slide holder.

McAllister's Lecturers Lantern projector, c. 1897.
The manufacturer's name is printed in golden capital letters on the top of the condenser house. Made of black varnished iron sheet; the burner house and chimney are made of Russian iron (blued tin).
Sizes are c. 37 cm long, 13 cm wide, 43 cm tall. The lantern is suitable for slides up to 10.5 cm height and 2 cm thick.

T. H. McAllister’s, “New York Model Magic Lantern”, with patent dates of April 6, 1886 and Nov. 22, 1887. Nickel plating, bellows and oil illuminant. Measures approximately 18” (45 cm) long with bellow and lens fully extended.


Magic lantern with many wooden parts in a metal case that measures 6 1/2" wide 12" tall 13 3/4" deep (16.5 x 30.5 x 35 cm). Several of the pieces are marked "T.H. Mc ALLISTER M'F'G OPTICIAN N.Y. PATENTED APRIL 6 1886" on brass plates. Unfortunately the 2 1/4" screw in lens front lens is missing. The slide holder is 4 7/8" wide and 4 3/4" tall outside dimensions; the slide fits in a notch. The 2 wick oil burner fits in a rectangular cut out in the wood base. A round cover cap with a square flanged opening in its side fits over the burner and its flange engages a flange on the outside of the back lens to direct the light through the slide and hold it in place. An oval metal chimney fits the top of the flame cover to exhaust the heat and fumes above the projector.

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Last update: 23-05-2021.
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