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[Original Art]

View at Kansas Memory

Accession Number: 1949.22.61

Physical Description: Hand painted glass lanternslide in a handmade rectangular wooden frame (a) with crank handle. Circular window at one end of frame is fitted with pair of sandwiched circular glass panes bordered in wood; panes have been painted in multi-colored geometric designs. Outermost pane has broken into two pieces (b-c). Opposite end of frame is fitted with a large circular crank with stubby wooden handle. Wooden frame is grooved between the handle and panes for a missing cable that, in operation, would rotate the outermost glass pane to create kaleidoscopic patterns. Nine nail holes puncture the wooden frame near the crank.

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): 9.60 (H) 25.70 (W) 3.60 (D) a) H: 9.6 cm; W: 25.7 cm; D: 3.6 cm b) H: 7.8 cm; W: 4 cm; D: 0.5 cm c) H: 7.8 cm; W: 3.7 cm; D: 0.5 cm

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: Kaleidoscopes

Creators and Contributors

    Reader, Samuel J.

Status: Cataloged

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