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The Magic Lantern or Lanterna Magica was the ancestor of the modern slide projector.
In the 19th century a thriving trade of projectionists travelled around the United Kingdom with their magic lanterns and a large number of slides to put on shows in towns and villages. Some of the slides came with special effects, by means of extra sections that could slide or rotate across the main plate. One of the most famous of these, very popular with children, was The Rat Swallower, where a series of rats would be seen leaping into a sleeping man's mouth. During the Napoleonic wars, a series was produced of a British ship's encounter with a French navy ship, ending patriotically with the French ship sinking in flames, accompanied by the cheers of the audience. The museum is able to demonstrate this Magic Lantern and is a great favourite with school children.

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