During the 19th Century it was discovered that certain substances (notably lime) if heated to a sufficiently high temperature could produce a brilliant white light. The discovery was first employed by the military to signal over vast distances but soon the theatre adopted the device for spot lights and its effectiveness as a magic lantern illuminant was soon exploited. A combustible gas( hydrogen, coal gas or ether) and oxygen were employed to achieve a high temperature causing the lime to ignite. Needless to say this operation was dangerous in the extreme and many fatal accidents occurred.
Limelight burner for inside a magic lantern
Limelight burner for coal gas and oxygen to ignite the lime
Limelight burner for hyrogen or ether and oxygen to ignite the lime
Limelight burner Gwyer jet
Lime block brass storage tube to keep limes dry
Selection of gas cylinder keys
The photo shows a paraffin burner in the open position. This example has two linear wicks. Once lit the hinged top was lowered and the burner placed in the lantern. The chimney was then added to create an updraft ensuring that the flame burnt as efficiently as possible.