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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.41

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in a handmade rectangular wooden frame. Painting depicts the head of a frowning Satan with small horns atop his head. Black background. The wood is cut in a jagged circle around the head. At the top of the frame is a title written in pencil. This is a slide frame, so a portion of glass extends past the left side and can be pulled to change Satan's eye color from black to red. This piece of glass is cut trapezoidally at its pull end. The back is cut to fit the glass with the painted face and the glass with the painted eyes. The face glass is held down with three metal glazing points and a nail near the base. The eyes glass is supported by two rectangular sections of wood fit vertically into the frame back and probably glued in place.

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. His first magic lantern shows were for his younger cousin Eugene Cole. As his equipment and number of slides improved, Reader began holding shows for the local doctor, Dr. Campdoras, and the people of the town. His first public showing was on September 28, 1866 at the doctor?s home. His diary mentions he and the doctor arranging chairs and putting paper on the windows in preparation. 120 people from the surrounding area attended the show. This red-eyed devil was the first slide Reader showed, and it became a crowd favorite in subsequent shows. In later years his magic lantern shows helped raise funds for bridge construction and the Rochester Cemetery.

Date: 1866

Dimensions (in cm): 10.00 (H) 17.80 (W) 1.20 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Handwritten on frame] ?That old serpent called __? ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

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

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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