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Lantern Slides

... masters in the ancient arts and craft of glass painting ..."

Shrigley and Hunt stained glass window, Lancaster City Museum
Lantern slides

The collection is comprised mainly of photographic lantern slides, although there are some glass negatives. The format connects the entire collection as there are a range of subjects, photographers, sizes, and locations. The University has held the collection since the 1970s, with the collection originally donated by Burnley Technical College. It has been added to over the years from a variety of sources, with the slides rescued from destruction and rehomed in a safe and secure environment.

The collection is stored within their original wooden boxes. Some of the photographic lantern slides have been damaged or deteriorated, although a majority are of a good quality, usable for research purposes. The collection features photographic lantern slides of regional subjects, including photographs of Kendal and the Lake District. The collection also includes portraits, stained glass windows, manuscripts, and international locations.

The collection features a set of 44 slides of designs from the stained-glass window firm, Shrigley and Hunt. The firm was based in Lancaster and had a showroom in London. It started in the 1770s and was known as Shrigley's. In 1878, the firm became Shrigley and Hunt, under the leadership of Arthur Hunt who was in charge until 1917. Hunt instigated the change to stained-glass windows alongside the inclusion of biblical scenes and figures into the designs. Shrigley and Hunt closed in 1982.

A large proportion of Shrigley and Hunt's work was designing and producing church windows, and this is reflected by the collection, with Shrigley and Hunt windows found in Lancashire, the north-west of England, throughout Britain and the world. Lancashire Archives holds the archive of Shrigley and Hunt. This includes financial documentation, such as cost books, order books, cash books and wages books. Alongside this are documents related to the output of the firm, such as design registers, materials books, drawings, and architect records. There is a Shrigley and Hunt stained glass window on the first-floor landing of Lancaster City Museum, which states the firm were masters in the ancient arts and craft of glass painting.

Glass slides have existed since the 17th century; however, it was with the invention of photography in the 18th century that glass slides became widely used, with glass slides a suitable companion to photographic cameras. It was in the 19th century when glass slides flourished and developed, with the first photographic glass slide appearing in 1849, however it wasn't until the invention of gelatin silver slides in the 1890s that glass slides became commercially produced and widely available. This availability of glass slides impacted upon the commercialisation and accessibility of photography. Lantern slides continued to be used throughout the 19th and 20th century until the 1930s/1940s, as lantern slides were overtaken and replaced by other technologies, such as film and projectors.

Lantern slides were commercially manufactured, such as by Kodak. Sets of lantern slides could be bought, with a pre-existing image on or individuals could buy blank plates and produce their own photographic lantern slide. Lantern slides were used for diverse and ranging purposes. This included entertainment, education and, as in the case of this collection, photography. Lantern slides were projected by a magic lantern, a forerunner to digital projectors. A source of light - initially a candle, then limelight and finally a bulb - illuminated the images of the slide onto a surface.

Lantern slides are a transparent positive image contained within a gelatin emulsion. It is enclosed by two glass plates and taped shut. Lantern slides are mostly black and white, especially those from 1850-1950. A negative is produced when an image is taken by a camera. The negative is then in contact with a gelatin binding, coated with light-sensitive silver salts and this produces a positive image. Glass slides after 1890 used gelatin silver paper. Gelatin became popular for photography as it was more stable, didn't yellow and was simpler to produce than its albumen predecessor. Negative lantern slides are made when the image is left unprocessed. Colour was sometimes added to the glass lantern slide. This either involved painting the glass or hand-painting negatives with minute paintbrushes using oil paint, dye, or water-colours.

The nature of glass and emulsion means lantern slides are at risk from deterioration and breakage and this affects the storage of these materials.