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Before the advent of film, Victorians relied on a more magical form of entertainment -- Magic Lanterns.
Invented in the 1650s, Magic Lanterns are a simple form of image projector utilizing a limelight and hand painted glass slides. These glass slides would be manipulated by a lanternist for effect and to create movement -- and sometimes the appearance of ghosts!
By the end of the 19th and early 20th century, Magic Lanterns were in homes, schools, fraternal lodges, churches and theaters as a regular part of home and public entertainment. They even began to make smaller models for children to use.
This beautifully hand painted glass slide is from the 1890s, during the heyday of the Magic Lantern. Created for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows by the McIntosh Battery and Optical Company in Chicago, Ill, the wood mounted slide is titled, "Altar of Incense," which was adapted from descriptions in the New Testament.
According to the Bible, incense was symbolic of the prayer of the people rising up to God. The offering of incense had to take place after the sacrifice, because only after the atonement could communion with God take place.
Read into it what you will. Is this a religious piece? Maybe? Is this a ritual sacrifice piece? Who knows!
Either way, it's pretty breathtaking and would look amazing hanging with a few eye hooks in front of a window.
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