Buckinghamshire haymaking magic lantern slide

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In the 1880/90s, most photographic lantern slides were produced by businesses whose photographers took high resolution photos with the finest cameras available. They manufactured the slides and sold them direct to the public by mail-order or to high street retailers or licensed their images to other manufacturers and retailers. This all sounds, and is, very modern.

By the 1920s, the lantern slide industry had virtually disappeared as, by then, the magic lantern was an old-fashioned form of entertainment. However, most people could afford cameras and amateur photographers transferred their photos of holidays, family and their local surroundings to lantern slides, to show to friends and family or enter into photographic competitions. Most amateur slides that have survived (and there are a lot out there) are very boring ….. sheep in fields, waves crashing on the sand etc. They usually have poor contrast or are damaged but, just occasionally, something remarkable turns up.    

Today’s photograph was taken by an amateur photographer with a plate camera in the 1930s. He was a Methodist Minister living in Buckinghamshire and captured rural life near the village where he lived. I bought his small collection of lantern slides from his son about twenty years ago. This one shows a farm-hand loading a threshing machine during haymaking. It’s just wonderful. There are at least three people in this photograph …. honestly!

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