Amateur Showmen Terrorize the West
At the other end of the spectrum from the superstars were the amateur showmen. In the “Terror of the West” cartoon, Puck magazine pokes fun at the tendency of small-time lantern showmen to exaggerate their subject matter. The lecturer’s slide depicts a broken-down cowboy; on screen is the image the lecturer hopes his story creates—a blood-thirsty desperado.
A small-time showman’s spirit is captured in the letter at right:
Hicksville, Apr. th 22, 1857. Sirs thare is an article that I wish to purchas and I pen a fiew lines to you in order to ascertain if you have it in your possession namely a magic lantern and if not pease inform me whare I can get me and what the probable Cost of one would be enclosed is a pd stamp address Hicksville Defiance co ohio. Yours in haste L. B. Hoit (?) To Oakley & Son
It was the huge numbers of showmen between the superstars and the dregs that filled the nation’s halls, and supported the lantern industry.
Pioneering Women Take on Men