This is a digitized scan of a hand-painted lantern slide, one of 1600 slides held by UBC Botanical Garden. All of the slides were once in the possession of the man in the photograph, “Botany John” Davidson.
If you’ve never seen a lantern slide, apparently they are not (and never were) that common. The North American Lantern Slide Survey results suggest that a collection of 1600 lantern slides is near the median.
On John Davidson: Among his many firsts, John Davidson was the first director of UBC Botanical Garden, the first provincial botanist of British Columbia and the first appointment to the newly-formed University of British Columbia. This slide is likely taken in the first decade of the 1900s, at his home in Scotland.
Many of his lantern slides feature plants or landscapes, and from time to time I’ll feature one as photo of the day. The assembled collection is amazing, considering that many of the slides were originally taken in black-and-white and then hand-painted. We’ve applied for funding from the Virtual Museum of Canada to digitize the entire collection, along with other historical documents and objects, to create a virtual exhibit dedicated to John Davidson. To see a similar exhibition with lantern slides, check out An Illustrated History of Missouri Botanical Garden (choose “Magic Lantern Slide” from the Source drop-down menu).
As a final note, I’d like to point out that hand-painting of black-and-white lantern slides allowed the image-maker to highlight special items of interest; in this instance, John Davidson coloured the green plants, the handle of the rake, and (what always brings a smile to my face when I see this image) the blue and pink bloomers on the clothesline.