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A real performance with the Magic Lantern

The drawing on this page is freely adapted from the label on the box of a magic lantern. The lantern was made by Georg Carette & Co. (from) Neurenberg (Germany) [G.C.&C.N.], and manufactured around 1910. The type of the lantern was nr. 245/7, but the same label has been  used for other models too.

The series lantern slides ‘The Tiger and the Tub’ was published around 1905 by W. Butcher & Sons, London, as no. 514 of the series ‘Primus Junior Lecturers Series’ (8.3 x 8.3 cms. ). You can have a look at the slides here.

Please come in, honourable guest, and find a seat in the living room of a Dutch family in the beginning of the twentieth century. Close the door carefully behind you because the daylight must be shut out. Yes, you will have to sit down on the floor amidst the children because the two chairs are destined for Father and Mother of course. The eldest son, Hendrik has just taken out the magic lantern, which he was given as a birthday present a few days ago, and will now give a real performance with the brand-new apparatus.

Of course Hendrik has accurately gone through the directions for use which are stuck at the inside of the cardboard box. In order to produce the pictures perfectly clear and distinctly, the magic lantern had to be placed upon a stead table at about 1-2 yards distance from the screen. Hendrik carefully cleaned the optical glasses and removed any dust from the metallic mirror inside the lamp house. Father helped filling the oil lamp with oil because this was a rather difficult and responsible job and of course they did not want to set their house on fire. Then the oil lamp was lighted and adjusted and finally put in its place. It took some time before Hendrik discovered that he had to slid the slides upside down into the lantern to let them appear in the right position on the screen. Then the optical glasses had to be set into the right focus by slowly drawing asunder the tubes.

Now Hendrik stands in front of the screen and, whilst telling the thrilling story referring to the slides, he points to the screen with a pointer. He would have preferred to operate the magic lantern itself as well, but since one cannot do two things at the same time, he has left this to his sister Carolina. He gives her a hardly noticeable nod to indicate when she should show the next slide. His brother Cornelis stands beside the screen and makes sure the little ones behave themselves.

Today the story of ‘The Tiger and the Tub’ is on the programme. Hendrik borrowed that set of magic lantern slides from his friend Jacobus who according to the bad condition of the card board box used that set already many times himself. It tells the story of two gentlemen who are troubled by a dangerous tiger have a look at the slides by clicking the boxduring their visit to a far away country. Fortunately a large tub is nearby. They throw the tub over the tiger and catch him. Once the tiger has slipped his long tail through a hole in the tub, they tie a knot in it without hesitation. The tiger, in panic, runs away quickly – of course with the large tub still fixed to its tail. Both gentlemen heave a sigh of relief.

When the gentlemen return to the same place a few years later, they notice to their astonishment that all the tigers in the neighbourhood are walking around with a tub fixed to the tail. Father has to chuckle when he hears this crazy story. He understands at once that it is a parody on the theory of that foolish Englishman.... what was his name.... oh yes, Darwin of course, Charles Darwin, and that theory of him was called the Evolution Theory. Ridiculous.... just like that story of the Tiger and the Tub.

After the last slide the spectators clap their hands enthusiastically. They are relieved, that everything has turned out well again. If you would like to have another good look at the slides, just click on the box…….....


The magic lantern is a cinematograph made by the German manufacturer George Carette & Company around 1900.

The size is aprox.: long 24 cm, wide 16 cm, high 49 cm, excl. film guiding.

The original label of the Carette box.

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Last update: 05-06-2021.
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