Stereoscopic Arifacts- The RAREST of the rare- Anaglyph Lantern Slides & Viewer

Pictured below, are images of a very rare set of Magic Lantern anaglyph slides and handheld anaglyph viewer.

There is not a whole lot I can say about this set of anaglyph Magic Lantern slides or the viewer pictured above. The fact that the images of these artifacts even crossed my path at all is a bit of a miracle, but thankfully, my friends and colleagues know me well enough to run any significant stereoscopic artifacts and oddities they find by me. I received these images via text message about a year ago and am not at liberty to divulge much information about them.

What I can say, is that the items pictured were from the Magic Lantern collection of Terry Borton (of Magic Lantern Society fame) and were being digitized for historic preservation purposes.

Terry Borton, pictured here from an interview article on The Museum of Make Believe website, which can be read in full here

Terry Borton was a lifelong performer of Magic Lantern shows and actively presented them for live audiences around the world right up until his retirement a little over a year ago. He happens to be a 3rd generation Magic Lantern performer, inheriting his fathers collection and grandfathers before him, as well as the experience and expertise necessary to put on such a display. From what I hear, he is also one hell of a showman to boot.

Lantern slides pre-date photography. The oldest examples were hand painted but with the advent of photography, photographic processes were developed for their specific reproduction onto Lantern slides. These slides are indeed representations of that process and even more specifically, rare examples of stereoscopic-photographs produced for Magic Lantern projection.

How they were captured, I cannot say, but I suspect they may have either been taken with a stereoscopic camera OR they were captured with a single camera sequentially on a day without wind, as the foliage in the background seems to be unrivalrous. The baseline they are meant to projected at is also a mystery to me at the moment, but it seems to have been captured suitably relative to their subject matter.

I have separated the individual slides in an app on my phone and superimposed them as pictured but with transparency, in a variety of windowing options below.

They produce a stereoscopic result when viewed with a red/blue anaglyph viewer, or even with the more common modern red/cyan color combo. When viewing, the red lens should cover the right eye. I am uncertain weather this was the intended format of viewing, though it does correspond to other historic anaglyphs with the right eye red viewing format. Many anaglyphs of the late 1800’s and especially those that were intended for motion picture projection in public theatres in the early 1900’s at the dawn of stereoscopic cinema were intended for right eye-red lens viewing. The viewer, if held in the right hand, further confirms my guess as the red lens would cover a viewers right eye when held right-handedly, but again, this is my educated guess, I have not confirmed this to be factual and concrete as of yet.

It was told to me as an aside, that in all his years, this was the first and only set for anaglyph Magic Lantern presentations in Terry Borton’s collection and it was the only set known to exist in his fathers and grandfathers lifetimes as well.

There is a makers mark on the bridge of the viewer. Stamped into the wooden viewer are the words;

Newton & Co. 3 Fleet St. London

This of course, checks out. Newton & Co. was a famous publisher of lantern slides and the Newton Lantern Company was active from 1852 to 1913. 3 Fleet St. is one of three known addresses associated with the business.

Other digital images of these slides and viewer exist. They were professionally digitized for historic preservation. If I am ever granted permission to post those images publicly, I will surely do so in another thread dedicated to them on this blog. The images you see here, are mere snapshots that were taken with a smartphone specifically for my benefit and I consider myself very lucky to be able to share them with you.

The rarity and significance of these artifacts are tremendous and hold an extremely important place in both the history of the Lantern in addition to its historic regard to Stereoscopy.

If you would like to learn more about anything and everything to do with the Magic Lantern, please visit their website.

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Thank you for you time, attention & interest!