Peter Hornbeck Lantern Slide Collection

Title

Peter Hornbeck Lantern Slide Collection

Subject

Lantern slides - Hand-colored - 1930-1940
Hornbeck, Peter - 1936-1998
Williamsburg (Va.)--History.
Architecture, Colonial - Virginia - Williamsburg

Description

Mr. Peter Hornbeck, a Landscape Architect and Harvard professor who died in 1998, assembled the Peter Hornbeck Lantern Slide Collection. He collected these slides produced in the late 1930s and early 1940s as examples of visual aids used by early landscape architects to discuss the Williamsburg restoration and eighteenth-century garden history. The slides encompass a variety of images of Williamsburg available commercially from A.D. Handy, F.S. Lincoln, Eldredge Studio, and the National Geographic Society. They also include some images of other historic homes and gardens in Virginia and England.

This collection is significant as a record of how landscape architects interpreted and presented eighteenth-century garden history during the 1930s and 1940s. It also provides a visual record of Williamsburg buildings and gardens before, during, and after the restoration work of the early 1930s. In addition, the collection documents how the Williamsburg Restoration publicized its work through commercial slide sets. For example, Mr. F.S. Lincoln, a New York photographer hired to document restored Williamsburg buildings in 1935, created colorized lantern slides of his photos for sale in Williamsburg shops. The Hornbeck collection contains numerous examples of these early souvenir slides.

A precursor of 35mm slides, lantern slides are large format positive transparencies, usually 3.25 x 4 inches, sandwiched between two pieces of glass. Many were hand-colored. A projector allowed the slides to be viewed on a wall or screen. Instead of automatically advancing from one slide to the next, the lantern slides had to be manually placed into a slot on the projector.

Invented in 1848, lantern slides evolved from those associated with magic lanterns in the late nineteenth-century to the format represented in this collection. Between 1848-1870, oil lamps served as the light source for magic lantern projectors. By the 1890s, the carbon arc lamp offered a better lighting method. The introduction of electricity in the twentieth-century allowed the projection of lantern slides to become common in schools and universities. Lantern slides became obsolete in the 1950s when the Kodachrome three-color process brought about the introduction of 35mm slides.