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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.31

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade wood frame. Oval-shaped window holding painted glass pane depicting two different pink wildflowers. Cursive handwriting in pencil around the frame is very faint, and seems unrelated to the slide. V-shaped notch in the top left side of frame. Glass is set into cutout space in the frame back. Held in place with five metal glazing points.

History of Object: Lanternslide painted by Samuel James Reader of Indianola, Kansas, and given to the donor by daughter Elizabeth Reader. Samuel Reader moved to Kansas in 1855 when he was 19 years old and lived in Indianola, a town north of Topeka, until his death in 1914. Primarily a farmer, he also was a Civil War soldier, artist, trustee for the township and Rochester Cemetery, and built two of his own houses. Reader kept a diary with nearly daily entries from age 13 until July 22, 1913. This diary makes up fifteen volumes. According to diary entries, Reader began making lanternslides on January 12, 1866. He created his first magic lantern out of a nail keg with a spyglass, but the image was very blurry. After a few months he tried to convince his aunt Eliza of the need to purchase a proper magic lantern, arguing that he saved money by not purchasing alcohol or tobacco. On June 30th, 1866, Reader received by mail order a magic lantern tube and chromotrope (the latter gave the appearance of a kaleidoscope when a lever was moved up and down.) Reader continued to purchase new and improved magic lantern equipment for many years. According to a letter from his daughter, Elizabeth Reader (dated December 1, 1942), their house was crowded with neighbors watching lanternslide shows on winter evenings. She noted that her father also held shows at country schoolhouses and churches to raise money for the community. He used a pocketknife and saw to make the slides. Reader noted in his diary that he laid out the slides on the roof for the paint to dry. Regarding the subject of this lanternslide, Eugene M. Cole was Reader?s younger cousin, son of Eliza. Reader lived with and worked on the farm with the Cole family. He shared his earliest lanternslides with Cole when they were young. Reader wrote often about Cole in his diary, using ?B? as the abbreviation for his name. Cole became a teacher after graduation from Washburn College in 1871. He died in 1877 at age 24 of a kidney problem.

Date: Between 1866 and 1876

Dimensions (in cm): 10.20 (H) 23.40 (W) 1.10 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Handwritten on base of frame] Eugene M Cole || [Cursive lettering along frame top, written perpendicular to frame] Eugene / ABC / DEF / [??]J / [??]Y / [???] / DBR / [?] / HZ / Y / No, / this / side/ up || [Handwritten on right side of frame, written perpendicular to frame] Eugene M Cole / [illegible] ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

    Origin, Place of: Topeka (Kan.)
    Origin, Place of: Indianola (Kan.)
    Origin, Place of: Shawnee County (Kan.)
    Theme/topic: Flowers
    Individual: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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