Magic Lantern Slide of Scott’s Entrance into Mexico City
400. [MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR]. Lantern slide showing Scott’s entry into Mexico City. [N.p., ca. 1870]. Wood mount (10.1 x 17.6 x 1 cm) into which is inserted a circular, hand-colored collodion on glass scene (7.6 cm diameter), secured by a brass ring held in place by two brass tacks. Paper label on lower border reading, “P.O.S. of A.” Except for some slight delamination, in fine condition. Unusual Mexican-American War ephemera.
A dramatic scene, probably adapted from one of the many lithographs and books concerning the war, showing Scott, his officers, and troops parading before the National Palace (over which the U.S. flag waves), watched by several citizens in the foreground. This particular rendition is unusual because it shows the Army marching in front of the National Palace instead of the Cathedral, which is the usual view.
The paper label indicates that slide itself was apparently used by the Patriotic Order of the Sons of America, founded in 1847 by Reynell Coates and still active today promoting patriotism. In keeping with other such slides known to have been used by the organization, this is another instance of a scene calculated to induce national pride. There can be little doubt that it is the lone survivor of a longer series of slides about the war.
Lantern slides, also known as magic lantern slides, were patented in the U.S. in 1850 by William and Frederick Langenheim, two Philadelphia daguerreotypists, although the principal of projection was quite old. They grew rapidly in popularity and were the standard such format until replaced by transparencies in the 1950s. They were used for numerous purposes, such as instruction, various types of public lectures, and popular and private entertainment—basically, any purpose to which the more familiar modern transparency could be put. Unlike transparencies, however, they could not be created easily by private individuals and were usually purchased from firms specializing in their manufacture.
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