Treasures of pre-cinema history
The magic lantern
Professional magic lanterns
A professional use of the magic lantern can have a different significance. In the years from 1843 till about 1900 as a lantern for a professional lecturer, to show dissolving views - Nebelbilder -. The lecturer used two lanterns side by side or a biunial and triunial-lantern, when two or three lanterns were placed on top of each other. Or it was a single lantern for use in the growing market of education and science, relatively late by scholars "discovered" in the last decade of the century. Whatever the lantern may be used for, Nuremberg missed out the great opportunity for new business, which arouse with the phenomenal success of dissolving view-shows, Nebelbildern, in the country.
The demand for a mass production of professional magic lanterns like toy lanterns was inherently a dream. But nevertheless workshops could have a good livelihood when manufacturing in some kind of a semi-automated production lanterns initially for showman and later for educational societies, research laboratories in companies, universities, slides-loan businesses, ambitious private people and so on. This market was unimaginable huge. As complex the customers were, as complex was the offer on specialised lanterns developed with the time. Beside the traditional lantern to project images on the screen, scientific lanterns for all purposes were offered. They made physical experiments visible.
Workshops for professional lanterns established as early as in 1843 in Vienna, the year when the first dissolving view in Vienna captured the the German speaking regions in a storm. The workshops in Nuremberg as centre for the mass production of toy magic lanterns and -slides could never turn their expertise into the market for professional magic lanterns. In Germany, the early workshops were spread round in the country. Krüss in Hamburg, Liesegang in Düsseldorf, Gebrüder Mittelstrass in Magdeburg or later Unger & Hoffmann in Dresden. They all continuous produced lanterns till the beginning of World War One. Berlin, as the capital of the new founded German Empire, become a leading manufacturing city with dozens of small workshops of all couleur, most of them specialized for a customer group.