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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.43

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade rectangular wood frame. Depicts a smiling man with horns, and wearing a blue pinstripe shirt. The background is black. An additional piece of glass slides over to change the shirt to red and make his face into a werewolf with red eyes. Wood of frame is 1.6 cm wide with a 14.6 cm x 7.2 cm glass rectangle window. Section of right side of frame cut out so that the glass can slide. Back has black paper at both sides and yellow paper in the middle with a cutout for the man’s head. Nail end at the top and bottom of frame keep the glass from falling out. Semi-circle carved out of frame on both sides.

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.

Date: 1904

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

Marks/Inscriptions: [Handwritten on back of frame] By SJ Reader / North Topeka Ks. / 1904 ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

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

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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