The industrial revolution brought new production processes into the metal industry. The handmade magic lanterns made in small workshops run by families disappeared under the pressure of new founded factories using modern techniques for a mass production of the lantern. The output of magic lanterns reached such a great amount, that the making of hand coloured slides could not follow anymore the demand, as typically twelve slides were added in a box together with the magic lantern.
Transfer or chromolithographic paper was invented in France. It is comparable with decals for model kits. The toy industry adopted the new technique around 1870 for the use of magic lantern slides. Hand in hand with new manufacturing methods for the magic lantern. The inexpensive production of both components, the lantern and the slides, allowed a steep growth rate. The output in production increased every year and reached its peak with incredibly high numbers at the turn of the century, some factories manufactured 100.000s lanterns every year. Transfer slides were made in a significantly higher number, in mind that for every sold lanterns twelve slides went with.
The magic lantern became for the ever increasing number of industrial workers a symbol of the modern world and at the same time the most desired present under the Christmas tree for the youth. Until the outbreak of World War I, the suppliers took great attention of a sophisticated picture language. However, the art of projection became affordable with the arrival of the cinema, the magic of the magic lantern faded away. The manufacturers turned to new attractions such as model trains or the steam engine when at the same time the visual language of the slides declined. The magic lantern, which had been fascinating for centuries, lost its importance in the 1930s. The production of transfer slides ceased in the 1950th.
It is extremely difficult to tell the maker, as most slides do not carry any maker names. Lovely examples from all decades give you an idea of past childhood dreams.