We all know the story of Cinderella, the underdog who wins the day and her conniving sisters who get their comeuppance. In the UK, we associate the story with pantomime, a peculiarly British theatrical experience which is a bit of a mystery to other cultures …. oh yes it is! The generic story has been around for over a thousand years, with regional variations, the earliest versions surfacing in China. The Brothers Grimm recorded it in the 19th century and included the key elements of the plot that we’ve come to know so well. As is often the case, the Disney version will probably be the final one, as it has global recognition and any future variation that removes plot elements or inserts new (original) ones, will be accused of falsifying the story! What has this to do with magic lantern slides I hear you ask!
Cinderella’s story contains elements appreciated by all ages, in all countries, throughout time ….. good and evil, a sprinkle of magic, a prince and pauper and a happy ending, and has been told by magic lantern slide makers since the early 19th century. At first, the slides were hand painted then, to reduce costs, the outlines of the pictures were printed on the glass and could be purchased either as black and white images or in hand-tinted colour. Finally, they were mass-produced using a colour lithographic printing process.
The three slides (from a set of ten) shown are from the 1880s, have a printed outline with hand-tinted infill and are lovely examples of the genre.
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