Frequently asked questions

There are several options:

  1. Acquire a flatbed scanner with a transparency lid. These are not too expensive (say £200+ for a new one) and can produce superb results. One example is the Epson Perfection 4870 and can easily scan 3.25" slides at 2400 dots per inch, giving excellent prints at 20 inches by 30 inches. Secondhand models of scanners can often be acquired on Ebay if the new price is too high. Make sure it has a transparency lid and a high scanning resolution.
  2. Use a digital camera to photograph slides on a lightbox. Cheap lightboxes can be purchased from any good camera shop. If possible use a tripod for the camera. This method should give you images easily good enough for a PowerPoint presentation. It might take a bit of practice to get it right.
  3. Photograph the slides against a window on a bright day. Again, you should get images good enough for PowerPoint and some trial and error might be needed.

It's possible the images might need retouching before you use them but most slides will give you a good image with a bit of effort.

Remarkably, as most types of lanterns slides were produced in large quantities and sent all over the world, they are still quite common and most are relatively inexpensive.

You may not often spot one in your local antique shop but a search online, on sites such as Ebay or antique auctions, for "magic lantern" or "lantern slide" will give you a good idea of which types are more commonly available.

Age, condition, subject matter and completion are all aspects which can affect value. Luckily, being quite expensive when new, people tried to look after their slides and as they are made from glass more care was taken to protect them than many other items. Slides belonging to a set can often be found for sale on their own but are more likely to be valuable when part of the complete set in its original box with the accompanying reading, if one was published.

The major place to trade currently appears to be Ebay. Many members buy and sell there and demand for material is constant. Take a look at other items on offer by searching for "magic lantern" or "lantern slide" and use the prices realised as a guide on what to ask.

You could start by looking at the Lantern History section of this website and other informative websites listed in our Resources section. These will give you an idea of the type of lanterns and slides which were manufactured and the associated terminology.

The Society’s publications are the next best source of information. Some are now accessible online however some titles which are only available in print are still best for providing a general overview for both lantern and lantern slide history.

If, after consulting the aforementioned sources, you are unable to identify the items in your possession or you think you have something special or unusual, get in touch and we will try to help.

The date of the next upcoming Society meeting is given on our meetings page with full programme details distributed to members a month in advance.

Society meetings are restricted to members only however we are always happy to be contacted by potential members who want to come along for a taster.