Homepage 'de Luikerwaal' Sing-along slides
Romance as sweet as honey on a glass slide.
Some years before the break out of the First World War, one of the most lucrative revenues of the popular music industry was selling sheet music for sing-along with the piano. Because of the lack of radio and television promotion and mass-produced records, it was rather difficult for the producers to popularize their new songs. Probably the New York heather electrician Tony Pastor was the first who got the idea to produce magic lantern slides that illustrated the lyrics of a song. He used life models to illustrate the ballad 'The Little Lost Child' and the song became a major hit in short time, selling over two million copies. After this success a flood of illustrated song slides were produced. It's beyond doubt that they were as essential to the popularity of the pop music of those days as video clips on television are today.

The main outlets were cinemas and music theatres, but also self-employed lanternists used them in their shows. Often the last slide contained the words of the chorus and the audience was invited to sing along. Of course the producers hoped that they would like the song well enough to go out and buy the music. The slides were often supplied free or at a nominal amount to the better outlets because of their great advertising power. Slides were usually discarded after a relatively short period of use and are difficult to find nowadays.
This custom brought us a lot of gorgeous romantic magic lantern slides. Just like in these days the subject was nearly always Love. The pictures often remind us of the pictures in a children's album of verse. But the times changed: in the 1920s the illustrated song slide was replaced by the simple, words-only sing-along chorus slide, mostly used for church service.


Often the couplets of a song were sung by a solo singer. Magic lantern slides such as this were used to project the words of the chorus to encourage the audience to sing along.

Phobe Jane (manufacturer Scott and Van Altena, c. 1910)


The majority of the illustrated song slides were produced in the United States. Most of them came from the New York studios of Scott and Van Altena and of Dewitt Wheeler. Both companies turned out thousands of slide sets each year.

Usually a complete set consisted of two parts, one with the words and one with the pictures, mostly photographs of enamoured couples in romantic settings, which the lanternist would show at appropriate moments while the audience was singing along. Both companies  often used extraordinary complex techniques, with hand coloured photographic montage effects involving the superimposition of several images, and that without the help of computers and a modern advanced photo processing program like Photoshop.

Scott & Van Altena, "The Masters of the Song Slides"

After practising independently for some years, in 1904 the slide makers John Duer Scott and Edward Van Altena formed a company together where Van Althena made the photographs and Scott was the colourist. Their slides where usually sold in sets of 16, including title and chorus.

About their competitor Dewitt Wheeler we know almost nothing.

Beside those two large American firms, also other slide makers, like the well known makers of Life Model Slides Bamforth and York & Son, produced song slides around the turn of the century.


'Let's Grow Old Together'. The complete set consists of sheet music, cover title slide and fourteen numbered slides. A record of this song has been recorded in 1912; it's probably copyrighted in 1911. Each of these gorgeous slides is marked with the title of the song on the outside, and the name and address of the photographers, Scott and Van Altena, printed on the interior mat.




MY DREAMY ROSE was a popular song published in 1912 Ė words by William R. Clay, music by Chas. L. Johnson, published by J.W. Jenkinsí Sons Music Company.

Hand-tinted movie theatre glass lantern slide produced by Scott and Van Altena, 59 Pearl Street, New York City.

.... just a grip out of the hundreds of slides that Scott & Van Athena produced. All slides measure 4Ē x 3.25Ē (10 x 8,2 cm).
  Missing title Love will forgive and forget... When the heart's behind a kiss...
Missing title Missing title Molly Darling Life is not all Roses
When I'm alone I'm lonesome... When the heartís behind a kiss (2) Every Body has a Key that Opens Someoneís Heart Never had a man to love me...
Havenít you forgotten something Dearie Missing title When Iím alone Iím Lonesome (2) You donít Know How You Will Miss Her
Three beautiful slides from a set called 'He's a Devil'. made by Van Altena.

Many photo's by Scott & Van Altena were published on postcards too.
This card is from the Illustrated Song Serie, No.1823. Words and Music copyrighted by Chas. K. Harris, New York 1907. Words used by permission of the publisher. Published by Theodor Eismann, New York. Printed in Germany. Photo by Scott & Van Altena. Vintage early 1900's postcard "Dolly Don't Be Sighin, Crying."

Photo by Scott & Van Altena. Illustrated Song Serie No. 1833. Published by Theodor Eismann, New York. Printed in Germany.
"And Shall Bring Them".

Photo by Scott & Van Altena. Illustrated Song Serie No. 1826. Words and music copyrighted by Chas K. Harris, New York 1907. Words used by permission of the publisher. Pub. by Theodor Eismann, New York. Printed in Germany.

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Last update: 03-06-2021.
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