Peter Hornbeck Lantern Slide Collection

Dublin Core


Peter Hornbeck Lantern Slide Collection


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


Mr. Peter Hornbeck, a renowned Landscape Architect and Harvard professor, assembled this collection of lantern slides produced between the late 1930s and early 1940s. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Peter Hornbeck managed the landscape architecture firm of Hornbeck Associates in North Andover, Massachusetts during the 1950s. He became a faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1963 and taught courses focusing upon historic landscape preservation and city planning.. These lantern slides served as visual aids during lectures he gave about the Williamsburg Restoration and eighteenth-century garden history. The lantern 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 historic homes and gardens in other parts of Virginia and in Great Britain.

This collection is significant as a record of how landscape architects were interpreting and presenting 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 undertaken in 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 compile a photographic portfolio of restored Williamsburg buildings for a special issue of the "Architectural Record" in 1935, also created colorized lantern slides of his photos for sale in Williamsburg shops. The Peter Hornbeck Lantern Slide Collection contains numerous examples of these early souvenir images.

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.