Pepper's Ghost Illusion


Professor John Henry Pepper conjured up his famous Ghost in1862 for an

audience at the Royal Polytechnic (Regent Street, London) - then described as the

"greatest scientific exploratorium of the Victorian Era". The presentation drew upon the methods of the magic lantern phantasmagoria (literally - a gathering of ghosts) popular from the 1790s. These magic lantern shows had become widespread on the fairgrounds.


Fairground showmen were quick to pick up on the Pepper's Ghost illusion, and the fairground Ghost Show emerged around 1873, with Randall Williams exhibiting at the Agricultural Hall. By the late 1880s the Ghost Show was a popular theme on the fairground, and flourished for over 20 years.


Huge ornate shows were built by George Orton (Burton-Upon-Trent), with carved decorative fronts. These shows were the precursors to the Bioscope Show, and were quickly surpassed at the turn of the century as the moving image hit the fairground. For a brief while the Ghost went into the background.



Excerpt from The Ghosts on the Fairgrounds - click here to read more


Photograph - Biddall's Ghost Show, 1880s




All Information is posted with the permission of  Professor Vanessa Toulmin  National Fairground Archive University of Sheffield,  Photographs are copy-righted 2009 to the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield Library, All rights reserved,  they are part of an extensive sideshow collection. No Images may be reproduced, reposted or used in any manner except that of viewing without the express written permission of the National Fairground Archives. For more information click here  National Fairgrounds Archive University of Sheffield  


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