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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.50

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade rectangular wood frame. Window for painted glass is a circle carved into the center of the wood. Painting depicts an old woman in a black dress leaning on a blue cane. There is a candle sitting on a shelf in front of her. An additional piece of glass is painted with an arm holding a match. This is sandwiched between a round leather frame with a leather and metal handle that makes the arm move up and down, giving the appearance of the woman lighting the candle. Wood frame is cut with two legs and curved at the left side for access to the lever. The leather frame is held in place with two long pieces of lead. Leather is sewn with copper wire.

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): 10.00 (H) 19.30 (W) 1.30 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Carved into right side of frame, written vertically] S J Reader || [handwriting on the left and right side of frame, written vertically, mostly illegible] ?It __ __ / To me tonight / I sit d___ / By candle light / Re___ ||

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.)

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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