My Favourite Slides

Lantern slide of Hillgrove Public School prepared by Mr Henry Tonkin, schoolmaster.

This lantern slide was made after 1960, and intended as a tool document of a model, idealised school, by its Principal, My Henry Tonkin. William Oakes, Archivist to the University of New England, reflects on the context surrounding the slides production. Mr Tonkin was highly regarded for running a model school in the New South Wales mining community of Hillgrove. After his appointment to the post in 1889 he took every opportunity to document the students, activities and resources of this school using his extensive photographic skills. Some images were shared by Tonkin with senior Department...

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Magic or Mayhem? Advertising in late-nineteenth century Sydney streets, discussed by curator, Sally Jackson (NFSA)

Magic lantern shows were not always conceived of as optical wonders. Indeed, in Sydney in the late nineteenth century, lantern projections were ridicled by prudish shop owners as insighting mayhem. On 3 October 1894 the Sydney Town Hall Clerk, received a letter of complaint and a petition. Addressed to the Mayor, Mr William P Manning, shopkeepers along George Street were frustrated by crowds blocking the entrance to their stores every night and preventing business. The cause? A lantern slide show, at the Haymarket end of George Street corner of Goulburn St. More precisely, on the upper...

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‘The Wreck of Nancy Lee’, discussed by Australian Folklorist, Warren Fahey (AM)

This is most likely the last slide anyone would consider selecting as a favourite. It is dull as dishwater and has no image other than the roughly typed words to selected verses from a song about a shipwreck. Yet, like many slides, it tells multiple stories. ‘The Wreck of the Nancy Lee’ was a popular song written by Arthur Le Clerq in 1931. Le Clerq was British and a composer of mainly novelty songs including ‘Nobody Loves A Fairy When She’s Forty’, ‘Tan Tan-Tivvy Tally Ho’ and ‘There’s Another Trumpet Playing In The Sky’. Undoubtedly, Le Clerq’s most successful song was ‘The Wreck of the...

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The Makings of an Argument: A slide from the National Library of Australia's Lawrence Hargrave collection by ANU DECRA researcher, Dr Ursula Frederick

It would be wrong to suggest that this is my favourite magic lantern slide, or even that it is my favourite within the Hargrave collection but for various reasons it has captured my attention. The slide forms part of a set of some 60 magic lantern slides and corresponding glass-plate negatives made by the lauded Anglo-Australian inventor and aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave in the first decade of the twentieth century. At the centre of the image there is a grid-like form comprising 64 roughly equilateral squares which has been cut into sandstone bedrock. Alongside it are two other...

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'Mr O'Tooles Adventures with his Umbrella' as an expression of British exceptionalism by Digital Humanities student, Anna Vennonen

I have recently been working on digitising magic lantern slides as part of my study in Digital Humanities. The project which introduced me to this type of media, consisted of researching, photographing, transcribing and cataloguing the century old artefacts. I chose to work on a set of 8 slides and their script, which tells the story of “Mr O’Toole’s Adventures with his Umbrella”. They were likely made between the years of 1903-1907 by W. Butcher & Sons, in London. I was attracted to this set because of its vivid artwork and humorous story. Coming from a background in Anthropology I was...

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Ali Baba's Colourful Treasures and Sumptuous Textiles in Chromolithography by Digital Humanities student, Claire Holland

It was difficult to choose my favourite magic lantern slide, the pictures from the Ali Baba collection in their bright jewel tones colours are all eye catching and intriguing in their intricacy. However, if pressed, my favourite would be the second one in the collection, not only because of the fascination its image holds over me but also because it was the first slide I took photos of. The image in question is the second in a series of twelve telling the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and depicts a man (our protagonist Ali Baba) standing in the middle of a cave surrounded by bags...

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'History calling', Discussed by Sydney University Museums' Curator of Ethnography, Rebecca Conway

My job involves contact with thousands of people. They variously go about their business or stare out at me from photographs, most taken more than a century ago. Some faces and images stay with you, continuing to remind you of their presence. It can be intimate and often feels like a form of communication across time. The joyful exuberance of this young Durom girl as she calls to a friend across a valley in the Rigo District, New Guinea caught my attention. I can’t play favourites, but her image in particular is one of a number featuring people that I have wanted to return to and know more...

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Updated:  17 November 2017/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications