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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.44

Entitled: A Sole Instead of a Soul

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade wood frame. Frame holds two windows depicting two images. Right-hand image depicts politician wearing a bowtie and stovepipe hat. He is holding out the sole of a shoe to the devil standing across from him. The devil has horns and a blue bowtie. There is black hand-painted text between them. Right-hand image is of the devil seated with his head hanging down, his arm on his knee, and holding a cane in one hand. Another piece of glass, painted with an arm, rests inside a leather frame with a lever. This glass piece can move the devil’s arm up and down. There is a thick black border around the devil. Handwriting in pencil is written under each window and between them. The devil painting on glass sits in a cutout section in the wood and is held in place with four metal glazing points. The devil and politician glass sits in a cutout on the opposite side and is held in place with four metal glazing points. The leather frame rests in a cutout, with an extra space for the lever to move. It is secured by two vertical wood pieces.

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: Between 1866 and 1913

Dimensions (in cm): 9.80 (H) 26.20 (W) 1.10 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Black print on left slide] OLD SCRATCH || [Handwritten on frame under left window] ?Old Scratch? out willed. No. 4 || [Handwritten between windows, written vertically] The Politician || [Handwritten on frame under right window] Cheating his _icast__ [illegible] / No. 3 || [Black print on right slide] A SOLE, INSTEAD OF A SOUL! ||

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
    Group: Politicians
    Theme/topic: Politics
    Group: Political candidates
    Origin, Place of: Indianola (Kan.)

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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