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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.57

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in handmade wood frame. Slide depicts a man reaching for a cowboy boot, and a snake appearing from the top of the boot. The image is created by two slides sandwiched together in the frame; one contains the entire scene and the other includes black spots masking out the snake, one arm, and the man's mouth. Moving the slide back and forth causes the snake to appear from the boot, the man's hand to snap back, and his mouth to open. Man is wearing a blue shirt. Brown paper glued to the glass surrounding the image. Two thin strips of paper lie horizontally between each pane of glass. The moving pane is angled at one end, as is the wooden frame, to limit the movement of the slide. Semi-circular cutout near the top corner of the frame. Glass is held in place with two nails.

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) 17.70 (W) 0.80 (D)

Marks/Inscriptions: [Written in black pen on back of slide] Designed and / painted by / S. J. Reader / 1904. / North Topeka / Kansas ||

Index Terms

Associations and Subjects

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

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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