And the Answer is ...

optics puzzle
The projecting lens is in the wrong place. Athansius Kircher or the illustrator didn't quite know where to put the projecting lens. Notice that the lens is between the oil lamp light source and the object to be imaged on the screen. The imaging (projecting) lens needs to between the object (the slide) and the screen, else you'll get quite a blurry image of the slide. In fact the lens shown could image the flame and smoke from the lamp.

Perhaps there is demon floating above the lamp, or perhaps an antique dealer or collector.

For more about Magic lanterns and to see the original source of this picture visit Russel Naughton's wonderful site or see my lantern page.

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