The Johns Hopkins lantern slide collection documents people and buildings on the Homewood Campus. Many of these slides are derivatives from existing photographic prints, and some were “colorized,” resulting in color images of some buildings before color film was in widespread use. The lantern slide has its origins in 17th century optical viewing devices which came to be known as “magic lanterns.” The earliest slides for magic lanterns consisted of hand-painted images on glass, projected by itinerant showmen to amuse their audiences. Early projectors used kerosene lanterns, before electric arc lights, followed by incandescent lamps, made the projection safer and easier. Beginning in the mid-19th century, photographic studios retained stock collections, from which they would sell slides for shows. Slide lantern photographers made either “contact” or “reduction” prints. After the completion of the photographic process, slide makers often affixed a paper border to the lantern glass, covered it with a clear piece of protective glass, and then bound the glass “sandwich” together with tape. Often, the images were hand-tinted with special inks or dyes, to create color images, before being sandwiched. Lantern slides were very popular into the 1930s, after which advances in slide film made them obsolete.

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