Homepage 'de Luikerwaal' Racial images on magic lantern slides.
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This item includes words or images that may be racially or otherwise offensive. They are included here as historical reproductions from a different period with different standards, and do not indicate any support or approval of such ideas and statements by the webmaster/author of this site.
They show the role that non-western figures often played in magic lantern stories and the way they were depicted on the slides.

During the Victorian era it was believed that black persons were still very closely related to apes and that the western people, especially, as colonisers of the world, had a manifest destiny from God to civilise as well as could be expected the heathen. People believed it to their very soul and actually thought they were lifting up the Black African especially. We also had others who pursued the degradation of both Blacks and Asians in a very destructive manner. One of these ways was promoting the idea that Blacks were alligator bait. Relatively many slides in this item show the Native being fed to a waiting alligator who has jaws agape. People laughed at this as it was humour as Victorians knew it. Children thought this was terribly funny and adults encouraged it.
Those slides are seminal pieces that go back to the very roots of this racist notion. They have been part of a magic lantern show, shown to entertain. In so entertaining they would have reinforced the negative stereotypical notion people carried with them about the lower intelligence of Black people generally.

On the other hand we should not make the fault to describe all lantern slides that depict black people as racist. It's true that a lot of those slides make the non-western people out to be queer, stupid, clumsy, ugly, inferior, and so on, but another multiple of slides show white men, women, and children having the same qualities and being in the same situations, and nobody will judge them as racist. In that case they are just funny stories, and of course the same goes for most lantern slides depicting coloured people. Possibly some of those magic lantern slides should be not quite as 'funny' when white figures appeared in the main role. Also some slides blow up the characteristics of non-western people in a caricatured way, for instance by a strange way of speaking or extreme fat lips. Those images sometimes make us knit our brows nowadays.

In short, the bounds between 'funny' and 'racist' are often difficult to decide. Judge for yourself:
Junior Lecturers' Series.

The Junior Lecturers' Series was produced by W. Butcher & Sons, London (1870-1906) under the trade name of Primus. The square slides, measuring 8.2 x 8.2 cm, were sold as a set of eight in a cardboard box.

Some stories may have more or less racial traits.
  How Jing Jing bagged his Quarry.
Gag-Jag the Rejected.
Where there's a Will there's a Way. (506). The Elephant's Revenge.
Ten Little N***** Boys.
Tien kleine n******** (515).

The Five Senses.
'Five senses' refers to the five traditionally recognised methods of perception, or sense: hearing, sight, touch, smell, and taste. The slides depict the five senses as experienced by a black "houseboy", and are numbered 1 through 5 include, seeing a bottle of liquor, smelling the contents, tasting the liquor, hearing the man approaching and feeling the beating the man then gives him for stealing the liquor.
The set of five slides was produced in several variations, in colour as well as black and white.

Another set of five magic lantern slides entitled "The Five Senses" made by W. T.? Each slide measures 3.25 inches x 3.25 inches (8.2 x 8.2 cm).


A long magic lantern slide showing two black children, dancing, cooking, drinking, and...... oops, a little bit drunk. Manufacturer unknown.

Poor Jeremi.

A set of 12 slides made by Theobald & Co. in their All British T Series, in/before 1897.

Original cardboard box and reading.
1. The hay was thick, and the sun was high,
'Isn't it hot?' said Jeremi.
2. Dinah Doe came wandering by, 3. 'What shall I say?' said Jeremi.
4. He ran to the rails and called out 'Hi',
'Shall I go with you?', said Jeremi.
5. But the maid replied with a scornful eye
'Certainly not, Mister Jeremi.!'
6. Then down he fell, and began to cry
'You are so cruel', sobbed Jeremi.
But she pulled his hair and she poked his eye,
'Why don't you kiss me', Jeremi?'
7. But just as he kissed her, he gave a cry,
'There's somebody coming, said Jeremi.
8. And long before he had time to propose,
The boss had given him on the nose.
9. Then he took his whip and made it fly
Round the body of Jeremi!
He made him wriggle, he made him cry
'Haven't you done?' said Jeremi.
10. Then off he ran to the river below
All for the love of Dinah Doe;
11. Then into the river he jumped with a sigh; 12. Poor unfortunate Jeremi!
Is a series as 'Poor Jeremy' racist? The black boy gets a terrible thrashing from his white master, but racism should be undeniable when the black boy should have kissed an white girl.

This set is also known as 'Poor Jerimi' and as 'Jeremi'.
1. He meets the Donkey near the cross roads. 2. Donkey, Smart and Thistle. 3. The Donkey stands on his hind legs.
4. A regular kicker. 5. A perilous position. 6. Still in peril.
7. Astonishing attitudes.

Unfortunately the last slide is not available, so I'm afraid we will never know how this story ends.

Corporal Smart.

A set of eight magic lantern slides. Manufacturer: Probably J. Green & Son, England, height 3.25 inches (8.3 cm), width 3.25 inches (8.3 cm).

Five caricatures of black people. This long magic lantern slide measures 6 1/4" long and about 1 3/4" inches tall (16 x 4.5 cm). There is no makers mark or signature on it.

Catching the Goose.

Complete set of eight square magic lantern slides, 8.2 x 8.2 cm. They all have a hand written capture in de bottom right corner 'Catching the Goose' and are numbered in the bottom left corner.
There is no reading, but the images speak for themselves.

Slide # II from a set of 12, each showing four scenes of a story.
Sambo delighted and Sambo disgusted. Short series of only two square magic lantern slides. Maker W. Watson & Sons, London.

Mechanical magic lantern slide of a photographer taking a photo of a caricature black lady and child. The child has 24 different expressions, only six of them shown in this animation). Size is 7 x 4 , 18 x 11,5 cm.

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