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Treasure 37: George Kemp Lantern Slides Collection
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Treasure 37: George Kemp Lantern Slides Collection

Historic Documents
Léa Moreau
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Treasure 37: George Kemp Lantern Slides Collection
Historic Documents
206
Treasure 37: George Kemp Lantern Slides Collection
2016 is the year of Innovation, Architecture and Design in Scotland and we will be highlighting some innovative items from our archive and collections throughout the year. This month we are showcasing Aberdeen City Libraries' unique collection of George Kemp lantern slides.

Lantern slides were manufactured in the mid-19th Century and were small pieces of glass featuring a painted image and measuring 3 ¼ inches square. A suitable light source and a combination of lenses created the 'magic lantern', also known as an optical lantern.

Dating back to the 17th Century, optical lanterns enlarged small images painted on glass and projected them onto a screen or wall, just as the slide projector does today.

Our lantern slide collection belonged to George Kemp, a native of Aberdeen and Town Council member at the turn of the 20th Century. Mr Kemp served in the council for 25 years from 1890 and as Governor of Robert Gordon's College from 1892. Upon his death in 1914, George Kemp's extensive collection of lantern slides was donated to the public library and is currently stored in Aberdeen Central Library. His obituary, published in the Aberdeen Journal, 26 October 1914, mentions the collection:

"[He] did much to preserve memories of ancient Aberdeen landmarks by his industry in collecting views, which he used in illustrating his admirable lecture on "Vanished and Vanishing Aberdeen", a lecture which has given delight to many audiences. He spent a good deal of money in making this interesting collection which he publicly stated his intention of leaving to the library for public purposes, and never to be broken up. The collection extends to over 500 slides."

The minutes of the Public library Committee from 1914-15 references the donation:

"The slides are now available in separate boxes in the Reference Department, and may be borrowed by any one who wishes to lecture on the subject. It may be expected that the value of the collection will increase with time, and although they may not be borrowed much for the present the possession of these historical slides by the Library will be a real educational asset to the city." (In Aberdeen Public Library. Thirsty-first annual report of the Committee for the year 1914-1915. Aberdeen: Central Press (John Milne), [1915], pages 8-9).
Magic lantern slides
TR07_23
Magic lantern slides
Aberdeen Local Studies
Yes
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