Before the invention of cinema, different types of moving and projected images were the height of sophistication for an evening's entertainment. The University of Exeter has been researching how people used to amuse themselves in the South West.
The three-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has explored the weird and wonderful variety of visual entertainment before cinema began. This is a poster advertising an evening showing a panorama of Afghanistan in Plymouth.
Stereograph of Exeter Cathedral c.1860.The project focused on Exeter, Bristol and Plymouth, as well as the coastal resorts of Torquay, Weston-Super-Mare, Penzance, Barnstaple and Sidmouth.
The stereoscope enabled people to view 3D images.
A painting of a peepshow at a fair c.1850 - typical of the kind that would have been seen at fairs in Exeter, Bristol and Plymouth. The project is the first time that a map of popular visual entertainment in the region from 1840 - 1912 has been documented.
3D stereograph of a ghost. University of Exeter English lecturers Dr Joe Kember and Dr John Plunkett led the project.
"What we have found is a veritable treasure chest of exhibitions, demonstrating the extent to which there was a thriving industry across the South West of touring and locally produced shows," said Dr Kember.
Across the South West, all classes and age groups participated in the rich array of popular, image-based entertainments, whether it was an audience enjoying a peepshow or an oxy-hydrogen microscope projecting a gigantic cheese mite at a charity bazaar.
Plymouth was one of the most densely populated cities of the period and provided a steady flow of people who could be enticed to see the latest visual and optical novelty.
Many of the shows reflected the spirit of empire with shows, providing visual travelogues across India and Africa which appealed to the people in places like Plymouth - seen as the pathway to the Great British Empire, via the port.
"There were numerous local magic lantern exhibitors who could be hired to come to your house and give a private show for your family and friends, or children might even make their own shadow show to perform," said Dr Pember.
What are these?