About optical-toys.com

A virtual Museum


How does one start collecting toy projectors?

Well, it's sad but it's true: the times of toy projectors are over. Today's children do not have any use for them any more. Since streaming, downloading and making one's own films or playing hyperrealistic games on xboxes and so forth has become an everyday occupation for our youth, there is hardly any pull left in these old gadgets. Their lighting is too weak, the films that can be viewed on them are too short, and there has not existed a wide variety of those to begin with.
However, for people who grew up with these mechanisms they will never lose their appeal.
For me, it all started when I was eight, up in the attic of a carpentry, among stacks of planks and heaps of wood shavings. My friend and I were "playing" with his old laterna magica, something I had never seen before. I will always remember the double thrill of doing something forbidden - handling the light source, a candle, in these surroundings -, and experiencing the fascination of times long gone depicted in images projected on the wall.
When I was ten, my Spanish relatives gave me my first projector, a "Cinexin". I spent many a rainy afternoon viewing the old films of Charlie Chaplin and Stan and Ollie with this cassette projector. Handling the apparatus was easy: exchanging the films, setting the speed, winding and rewinding, all of it no problem-
Some 25 years later, I came across a few glass slides at an antiques shop which were on offer at a quite moderate price - and my passion for laternae magicae was sparked afresh. Then, of course, I needed the corresponding projector - which I found after a short search on the at that time still "brand-new" four-letter Internet auction platform, among many other different things like for instance an old stereoscope with its picture cards and and and ..
The next acquisitions were soon to follow, and now, after all these years, more than 1,000 "machines" have "gathered", all of them presented on this website. What impresses me most about all of them is the simplicity with which the illusion of movement is created.
The scope of this website is to provide an overview of toy projectors and viewers produced between 1870 and 2015, along with the corresponding background information.
The descriptions of the apparatuses are complemented by images of brochures, ads, patents, and instruction manuals, if available. The latter, as well as the ads, can be downloaded as pdfs in their original size.
The collection is classified according to the different projector and viewer types. Each projector or viewer class has been assigned a suitable abbreviation together with a serial number that increases corresponding to the year of production. New purchases are continually integrated into the website.
All projectors and viewers on this website belong to my collection and are not for sale.
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