Magic Lantern - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The greatest challenge the American Treasure Tour guides have is determining which of the items in the collection can be talked about in the time allotted for tours.  We can safely estimate there are half a million items on display throughout the tour.  The blog gives us an opportunity to discuss some of our less-mentioned gems, but it rarely makes it easier.  We want to share it all! Today, we are going to travel into the Toy Box.  Hidden in plain sight is a Magic Lantern - or a Lanterna Magika.  It currently is on display close to our goat pillow fight (anyone who's been here knows what we're talking about!).

As early as the 17th century - long before motion pictures or even photography, Magic Lanterns were a way to present larger-than-life images using backlit glass panels with artwork on them. The big challenge early on was creating enough light to actually see the images - this was resolved with a few different inventions:  the Argand lamp of the 1790's, the limelight of the 1820's, and then the arc light of the 1860's.  Magicians and spiritualists embraced the Magic Lantern as a way to reach their audience, as did educators.  The example on display at the American Treasure Tour has transparencies telling a Biblical story.  In their day, Magic Lanterns were considered marvelous inventions.  The advent first of photography, then motion pictures, made them largely obsolete.
QUESTION:  Once photography became widely accepted, what technology essentially replaced the Magic Lantern for home entertainment?
A)  Videogames
B)  iPads
C)  Slide Shows
D)  Super 8 film

BONUS!  Every now and again, a United States president has a bad idea.  During World War I, Herbert Hoover's humanitarian efforts in Belgium had been so universally praised that his election to the highest office in the land in 1928 was almost taken for granted.  But then the Great Depression hit, and nothing he did was well received.  Things were not going well by this day in 1932, with veterans of the Great War calling themselves the Bonus Army demanding money promised by the government earlier than initially intended.  Hoover brought in the Army, under General Douglas MacArthur and his assistant Dwight Eisenhower, to send them away.  Horrible public relations move, it can be no surprise that Hoover lost his bid for re-election later in the year.

OH JACKIE.  Born on this day in 1929, Jacqueline Bouvier would become one of the most famous and idolized women to ever take on the heady roll of First Lady of the United States when her husband, John Kennedy, took his seat in 1961 (when Jackie was just 31 years old!). She likely did as much to charm America and the world as her charismatic husband, and earned even more respect after John's assassination in 1963.  She re-married in 1968, the massively wealthy Aristotle Onassis, who she also survived.  She was, however, only 64 at the time of her passing in 1994.  

QUOTE:  One must not let oneself be overwhelmed with sadness. - Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis

ANSWER:  C)  Slide Shows.  The idea was the same - back light images to show enlargements of them.  These were also a great way to bore your friends and family when describing a recent vacation!