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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.52

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade wood frame. Painting depicts a bearded man in a brown jacket and wearing a red-bordered white sash and Freemasons' apron. The sash has a small blue emblem in the center. This is a moveable slide, with the man having two left hands – one down at his waist and the other up by his head as if he is taking an oath. There is a second long rectangle of glass painted with two black spots that, when pulled back and forth, make it appear that the arm is being raised. The window of the frame is a circle cut out of the wood. The background, attached to the glass, is the remains of an old receipt or postcard that also has some pencil sketches related to the painting. There is a v-shaped notch out of the top right corner of the frame. Each piece of glass sits in a cutout at the back of the frame. The glass with the man painting is held in place with three metal glazing points. The sliding glass is held with one glazing point and a nail angled into the bottom of the frame.

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): 9.50 (H) 19.50 (W) 1.20 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Handwritten on background paper] Reader / North Topeka / Ks ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

    Origin, Place of: Shawnee County (Kan.)
    Origin, Place of: Topeka (Kan.)
    Individual: Reader, Samuel James, 1836-1914
    Business / Organization: Freemasons
    Origin, Place of: Indianola (Kan.)
    Business / Organization: Fraternal organizations

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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