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  1. #1

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    Glass Plate Positives

    Hi All,
    Just wanted to find out how rare glass plate positives are. I found one in my collection and would like to know if anybody can point me in a direction to find out more about glass plate positives.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    I don't know much about them, but they are also called "lantern slides" if you search for that on the Net or in a library. The original lantern slides dates from before the time of photography (17thC in Europe at least), and were hand-painted glass plates projected on a screen by the light of some burning device (just like a modern slides projector) . One type of projector invovled a "dissolve" effect between slides, and was called a "stereopticon."

    They were a very popular medium, but the arrival of cinema displaced them. Uses ranged from amusement to moral edification in church sermons. The photographic slides were even more popular than the hand painted ones from being much sharper, and those are the ones Jacob Riis (the author of "How the Other Half Lives") used in his crusades on poverty in Lower Manhattan. I just handed in a 20p+ paper on Riis so I'm seeing him everywhere now.

    As for assessing their value/rarity, I suppose it can vary a lot, depending on the condition, the subject represented, etc. They were a fairly common medium at the time (I've seen occasionally on eBay boxes of unexposed ones), but having one in good condition now may be of some value. You may want to talk to someone working in archival work. Or somebody from APUG will just step in and demonstrate preternatural knowledge of them, as sometimes happen.

    Can you try scanning the one you have? I've never seen one "in person" so I'd be really interested.

    Cheers,
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  3. #3
    reellis67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFArchivist
    Hi All,
    Just wanted to find out how rare glass plate positives are. I found one in my collection and would like to know if anybody can point me in a direction to find out more about glass plate positives.

    Thanks
    If you could tell us the dimensions of the glass it would be helpful.

    - Randy

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    I have a collection of Victorian era lantern slides. The B&W positives were professionally hand colored and are quite striking when projected. They were from a professional studio that would go around to wealthy families and produce a whole series of images of family members, the home, garden, and idyllic scenes like the family dressed up for church or on a picnic outing.

    I believe the lanterns used a candle, a set of mirrors and a lens to project the image on the ceiling. The lanterns seem to come up in the vintage section of Ebay quite often,
    "Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
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  5. #5
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chinn
    I believe the lanterns used a candle, a set of mirrors and a lens to project the image on the ceiling. The lanterns seem to come up in the vintage section of Ebay quite often,
    Not sure if candles would be strong enough, but that depends on the size of projection aimed at. According to the article I have, the stereopticon were "Illuminated in the days before electricity, by oxygen and hydrogen gases burned against a pellet of lime, the system made it possible to spotlight a speaker on stage who narrated the sequence of slides." (from : Stange, Maren. "Jacob Riis and Urban Visual Culture." Journal of Urban History. May 1989)
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  6. #6
    athanasius80's Avatar
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    We're talking about two different devices at once. People at home often used a Magic Lantern. Those machines usually took glass slides that were long strips with several images. Magic lanterns normally were lit with candles or small oil lamps. Professionals used Stereopticons which typically used stronger power like arc lamps or limelight (burning gas against a lime pellet.) Stereopticon slides usually took "lantern slide" size glass plates, and IIRC Kodak 2C or No. 3 cameras were the same size so you could make your own lantern slides if inclined.

  7. #7
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by athanasius80
    We're talking about two different devices at once. People at home often used a Magic Lantern. Those machines usually took glass slides that were long strips with several images. Magic lanterns normally were lit with candles or small oil lamps. Professionals used Stereopticons which typically used stronger power like arc lamps or limelight (burning gas against a lime pellet.) Stereopticon slides usually took "lantern slide" size glass plates, and IIRC Kodak 2C or No. 3 cameras were the same size so you could make your own lantern slides if inclined.

    Ah, I see now; it's basically the amateur and the pro editions! Do you know if glass plates were 4x5 ?
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  8. #8

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    Glass Plate Positives

    Thank you all for responding. The slide I have is not tinted or colored. It looks like a black and white photograph. Actually, it is approximately 4" x 8" and is of baseball players. It looks like it was shot in the late 1800s to the turn of the century.

    I am only sad that there was no accompanying information that would give me any insight on the history of the item.

  9. #9
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SFArchivist
    Thank you all for responding. The slide I have is not tinted or colored. It looks like a black and white photograph. Actually, it is approximately 4" x 8" and is of baseball players. It looks like it was shot in the late 1800s to the turn of the century.

    I am only sad that there was no accompanying information that would give me any insight on the history of the item.

    Word, can you imagine the impact of a 4x8 slide projected in front of a nineteenth-century audience? We tend to think our modern medias have so much more impact, blah blah blah, but think of it: the first time people saw photographs, they were daguerreotypes. The first time they saw photographic slides, they were large glass plates. Just thinking of the definition of these two media, and the consideration of them as truth-bearer becomes suddenly more plausible. The impact must have been astonishing, to say the least.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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