A magic lantern slide of Seattle

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This is another of those magic lantern slides that is so sharp and full of detail that, as well as being a delight to look at, is an important record of an American city one hundred years ago. 

Whereas the heyday of the magic lantern projector in Britain was the 1890s, it seems to have been a bit later in America, maybe the 1920s. This must be the only example of the USA lagging behind Britain, although you haven’t had a Royal family yet. Come to think of it, you have, and it led to you leaving the ol’ country. 

American manufacturers chose to produce their slides in a different size, four by three and quarter inches inches rather than our three and a quarter inches square, ‘though the size of the image on the glass was the same. Strange that American companies would unnecessarily add to their manufacturing and distribution costs with extra size and weight. The only other country to use this slide size was France, so there might have been a French influence in the decision.

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Just look at the clarity of this slide ….. and this is a low resolution version. The photograph was taken by a professional photographer using the best equipment available and it doesn’t lose any of its detail or sharpness when projected onto a large screen. Travelogue slides such as this were sold in their millions in the USA in the early decades of the twentieth century and were so well made that many, like this one, have survived in ‘as new’ condition. There are lots available on Ebay. 

According to the internet, Seattle is a beautiful city with thousands of acres of parkland and surrounded by mountains. It sounds like my kind of place and if it still has its street cars and 1920s automobiles, I’ll book my flight now.

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