Unique Optical Projection Lantern Rare Limelight


Stock Number: #390


An Extremely Rare Historical Antique Optical Projection Lantern. Thought to have been used aboard a sailing vessel - owned by a unique French traveler.

You may also find such an exquisite item to be referenced as a Limelight, Drummond Light, or Magic Lantern. Either way"it is a find to be cherished in honorable hands.

Embossed into the brass are many French words:

"CHALUMEAU" ( English translation -TORCH) and the numbers "1266" found just above.

"BREVETE" (English translation - PATENTED or PATENTEE) and the initials "SGDG" just below.


Also enscribed in the brass is the word "SECURITAS".

As best determined the makers mark reads: "MAYSON PONDEE" "FN 1732 M PARIS"

Research finds"

The first necessity for lantern projection was a strong light. One principal means of obtaining this light was by the "Gridiron" Saturator - limelight, which was known to be the first light sources used in film. It is noted that the "Gridiron", made in pre-war days adopted largely by the London County Council and certainly one of the best designed saturators ever put on the market.

In the 'Gridiron' saturator there are three taps: two at the rear and one in front, between the saturator and the mixing chamber. Between the rear taps is the inlet for the oxygen, which divides into two channels, that on the left passing upwards through the U tube and thence through the saturator and out through the horizontal tube and tap into the mixing chamber, whence the saturated stream of oxygen finally passes to the nipple, and the combination burns with a whitish flame closely resembling that produced by coal gas. The other channel for the oxygen, located underneath the saturator, and finally coming up into the mixing chamber from below, transforming the white flame into an intensely hot blowpipe exactly as it does with a coal gas jet. The front tap controls the supply of saturated ether to the mixing chamber, and whereas at first a good stream of oxygen is needed to pick up enough ether, by degrees as the instrument warms in the lantern, the oxygen passing through the saturator can be cut off entirely, and even then the front tap must be gradually closed down to prevent the hot ether coming off too fast. There is a disagreeable feeling of 'sitting on the safety-valve' in doing this, but in reality the pressure is never likely to become great enough to cause danger.

Additional research also finds an association with the "Magic Lantern" and use of Limelight - Oxy-ether Saturator

The very poor light output of oil lamps restricted the use of the magic lantern until the Limelight was developed. In 1801 the oxy-hydrogen blowlamp was invented, in which a stream of oxygen was blown through a hydrogen flame to produce an intensely hot flame. It was found that when this flame was directed onto the surface of a block of lime, a spot on the surface of the lime became white hot and gave off a dazzling white light. At first the limelight was used in a projection microscope, then as a powerful signal light which could be seen for many miles, and eventually it was adapted for use in the magic lantern. William Little, an optical instrument maker, demonstrated an oxy-hydrogen microscope in Adelaide in July 1846, and Henry Kesterton brought a limelight-powered magic lantern to Adelaide in January 1848. The limelight was made in a number of different configurations which burnt different types of fuel, but all had to have a supply of oxygen and producing this could be a dangerous occupation. Two serious explosions occurred in Adelaide in the 1860s during oxygen making experiments. The oxy-ether saturator enjoyed a brief period of popularity as a means of working the limelight. While some contemporary sources said it was the most dangerous of lamps and others said it was safe, most agreed that it was convenient because, like the oxy-calcium spirit lamp, the oxy-ether required no fuel gas, only oxygen in a gasbag or cylinder. The purpose of the saturator was to mix the fumes of ether (or benzoline) with oxygen to form a highly combustible (but not explosive, they said) mixture which was burnt at the nozzle of the limelight. It was not a very powerful light, but was suitable for homes or small halls. Ether is highly volatile and very inflammable liquid which was placed in a reservoir filled with an absorbent material through which a stream of oxygen was passed. The reservoir containing the ether was called the saturator, and in some lanterns it was installed in the lamphouse, in others it was a separate unit.

Condition Report is suggested to be just below exceptional. It shows just beautifully. It does have some very minor scratches, bends and chips however, it is the opinion that these areas do not take away from this item's presence...more like it wears it's genuine patina proudly in fine representation of it's said age. It is not known if it works"never has been tested.

Approximate Measurements:

8.5 inches in length

4 inches in width

6 inches in height

Approximate weight is 5 lbs, without packaging and shipping box.

This is truly such a unique and rare instrument with amazing detail"it would make a Once in a Lifetime Gift for anyone who collects historical memorabilia.





Purchase Information

Call or email Steve Gronow to get your questions answered and find out how to finalize your order.

Phone:810-599-5147Email:Contact seller