Treasures of pre-cinema history
The magic lantern
Hand painted slides
The introduction of philosophical toys in 1779 in Berlin, among them the magic lantern,marked the begin of a new era for the magic lantern. The traditional way of making and selling the magic lantern in one hand (by scientific instrument workshops) showed at the last quarter of the 18th century serious symptoms of decline. The workshops with a wide offer from the air-pump to the electricity-machine disappeared one by one. New strategies emerged on the market, when new founded toy distributors like Peter Friedrich Catel in Berlin 1779 or Georg Hieronimus Bestelmeier in Nuremberg 1791 commissioned workshops, usually located in Nuremberg, to manufacture toys they asked for.
The distributor was responsible for marketing the toys, and Catel and Bestelmeier proficiently used all routes of the time to win new customers, like adverts in the two leading nationwide newspapers "Kaiserlich privilegirter Reichs-Anzeiger" or the "Journal des Luxus und der Moden", published lavishly illustrated catalogues or attended fairs with own stalls. Thus it is no wonder, that the demand for toy magic lanterns and slides were rapidly growing. The workshop of the Rose-family was the leading workshop in Nuremberg at the end of the 18th century, which satisfied the demand of the distributors. At the beginning of the 19th century the market was fast growing. The marketing machinery showed results. New family run workshops in Nuremberg were founded in the first half of the 19th century to manufacture magic lanterns and slides beside other (optical) toys. Thus the increasing demand could be satisfied. In practice, the labour was split among the family. The husband and maybe an assistant manufactured the magic lanterns while the wife and the children painted the slides. Different slide qualities were offered, motives with blackened background were more expensive than transparent onces. Magic lanterns were offered up to ten different sizes, also the slides. Countless gradations in the quality of the paintings were available too met all customer expectations. The edge of the glass was framed in handmade paper, typically ornamented with red stripes, as well as the wooden boxes. Only for the very large slides wood was used to frame the glass-plates up to half a meter wide.
The visual language was subject to a continuous process. Without a history of the magic lantern for children, the slides painters in the late 18th century leaned on by themes of their former customers, the "adult world". Among the recurring motives were the "betrayed husband", "pull devil pull baker", "hunting", "the virgin mill" (Jungfernmühle), "Noah’s Ark" or "Adam and Eve". The visual language was not always suitable for children and were replaced by rural scenes and depictions of everyday life. It is interesting to observe that the workshops in the 1850th Nuremberg stood still in the painting technic and in the imagery like a half a century ago. The process of printed outlines (with hand-coloured motives) on glass was introduced in the 1850th (in England already in 1822), the traditional hand painted slides seemed all of a sudden old-fashioned. Most workshops adopted the new process, nevertheless some small workshops were unable to invest in the new technique and offered low quality hand painted slides till the late 1860th.
The peak of hand painted slides for children ended in the mid 1850th. Take your time to discover forgotten folk art and read picture stories in the galleries.
Hand painted slides kept their relevance for professional lecturers also in semi-professional private use. These hand painted images were commissioned by specialized glass painters and were produced till the turn of the century. There is no comparison with the hand painted slides for children. Examples can be found in the sections of Friedrich August Böttcher, the Milieu of the Royal Polytechnic Institution and lecturers.
Christoph Ernst Spahn, Fürth
Active from c. 1839 to 1860
Johann Christian Wolfgang Rose, Nürnberg
Active from 1779 to 1826
Johann Adam Gugler, Nürnberg
The Nürnberg Industrie- und Kultur-Verein appointed the mechanicus...
Georg Thomas Grosser, Nürnberg
Active from c. 1827 to 1848
Johann Caspar Rosenbauer, Nürnberg
Active from 1848 to c. 1875
Nicolaus Geringer, Nürnberg
Active from c. 1860 to 1870