5. Young “Gen. Mgr.” Gives Show 2017-06-14T18:46:42+00:00

5. Child Performers

Young  Boy Gives Toy Magic Lantern Shows

Toy magic lantern shows were performed by children, using their own lanterns. The show in this poster was performed at the theater of “H. G. Andrews” and the showman was . . .  who else but young Fred Andrews, probably age 8–10.  He had just received a toy magic lantern for Christmas, 1884, and organized his toy magic lantern show for Dec. 26.

The ad shows the kind of lantern Fred might have had.  It is offered as a free premium for obtaining magazine subscriptions.  Most toy lanterns were made in Germany.  They were incredibly inexpensive, and enormously popular.  Perhaps as many as 50,000 toy lanterns a year were sold in America—from the 1880s, when Fred got his present, to the 1920s. That would amount to two million lanterns,  See some for sale on eBay today.

Toy slides like the one with four-images of dogs would have come with Fred’s lantern.  Moving comic slides were not generally included with toy lanterns, despite the fact that kids loved them — just too expensive.

Archival Notes

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