Friday, January 25, 2013

Object of the Day: A Wonderful Theobald and Co. Magic Lantern Slide

This "Object of the Day" may appear familiar to some of you.  If it does, that's because I've shared it with you before in June of last year.  Next week, I'll be sharing with you a complete set of different antique magic lantern slides depicting Punch and his pals which I received for my birthday last December.  And, then, the following week, I'll be sharing with you a very special slide which was given to me for Christmas.

This week has not been at all what I'd planned, between recovering from the dreadful flu, power outages and work.  And, so, the end of it leaves me a little too shaky in the hands to confidently handle thin pieces of cherished antique glass.

But, next'll see some really cool slides.  In the meantime, let's revisit how my family preserves such antique magic lantern slides.

This image from the V&A shows the same slide that I acquired for my collection.

Regular readers know of my fascination with a particular set of artifacts at the V&A—a set of glass magic lantern slides made in the late Nineteenth Century by Theobald & Company which depict scenes from the Punch & Judy tradition. I adore these slides! A few months ago, I had an opportunity to purchase a complete set and missed out on it. I’m still kicking myself over it. Recently, my mom and dad gave me one from the set which they found online—along with three other assorted magic lantern slides. The slide that they found is the one featuring Mr. Punch’s meeting with Joey the Clown. It’s really quite adorable. The image above is the same slide from the V&A. I’ve shared this image since it’s nearly impossible to take a good picture of a glass slide without a professional set-up.

So, now I had the slide. But, what to do with it? How could we show it off in the best way? Well, my father devised a plan to build a lightbox into which the slide would fit. A nightlight bulb from within would illuminate the slide. I had no idea how he’s go about this, but he’s much smarter about these things than I, so I trusted him. And, he did an excellent job! He had the idea to make the box in the image of a traditional Punch & Judy fit-up. So, I selected suitable colors and, then, I went about painting it for him. Here’s the finished result. I’m quite pleased with it! It sits on a dusty turquoise base and little gold feet, and Mr. Punch and Joey just glow happily into the night. 

Forgive the blown-out pictures.  When you're trying to take a picture of something that lights up, it's rather difficult.

The text which would have accompanied this slide originally read:

Hullo! here’s my friend the clown. What cheer, Joey, what a mouth you have got to be sure. Don’t open it any wider, or I might fall down and hurt myself. 
Joey: Oh, Mr. Punch, you’re in for it. They say you’ve killed your baby. I saw the beadle coming down the street. 
Punch: Oh dear, oh dear, whatever shall I do. I say, Joey, you go and tell him I’m not at home, say I’m ill, say I’m busy, say anything, but keep him off.

Now…I need the other eleven.

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