Dearest reader, I don't want to come off as sounding...how do I say?...superior, but you do know what a slide is, don't you? I don't mean a PowerPoint slide, but a real, actual physical slide? A special type of film developed and sandwiched between pieces of glass or plastic, them inserted into a slide projector in order to enlarge the image? Is this sounding familiar at all?
Before the advent of the digital, people used slides in a variety of ways. Do you remember that art history class you slept through freshmen year? Come on, the one with the slightly peculiar professor in which you barely pulled a C? Yes, that one! The professor was using slides to project all of those images onto the screen. Most likely, your school had a slide library and said peculiar professor would go the library and pull the images they wanted from drawers filled with hundreds of slides of works of art, each turning a rosy pink as they aged. If said peculiar professor didn't find an image they were looking for, they brought a book to the library and noted the images they wanted with a sticky note. An underpaid graduate student would use a copy stand to shoot the pages in the book with a camera (Copyright? We don't know nothing about no copyright.); develop the film; cut the film into individual images; crop the film with special silver tape so that only the images was seen and not all of the gobbly-gook text around it; mount the images on a slide; seal and label said slide; then mark the 'front' of the slide with a special red dot so that once inserted into the carousel, the slightly peculiar professor would be able to see all of their slides were loaded correctly. Who would take such a job? Moi. Mais oui.
And you, just sleeping right through that scintillating lecture on Merovigian fibulas had no idea of, or consideration for, all of the work that was done to make sure the image shown to you was updated, straight and oriented in the right direction. It was an art; an art lost completely with the birth of the digital. And you had no clue, no thought or knowledge or respect for the art or process. None at all. Barbarians!
Apologies; this wasn't supposed to be the slide librarians lament, it just all of that droll, meaningless work came rushing back. Slides were also used by civilians, especially in the mid-20th century. People took images on their vacation or other special events and then, usually with the ruse of dinner or drinks, subjected their soon-to-be-ex friends to hours of inane narration to accompany their images projected on the wall. Kind of like a blog, but in person...
BUT, since this was pre-PowerPoint where you can now arrange a slide or image with any whim, how did they make sure their slides were in order? (Finally, to the point.) Slide sorters! Now, if you're a fancy, scmancy art history professor, you had a large light table on which to arrange and rearrange your images in order to craft and build your lecture into something your students will be thrilled to hear in a dark room at 8 a.m. But, the average joe? Personal slide sorters!
These little objets are pretty amazing: most have no switch or button, you just place the slide in the sorter and a light comes on automatically, illuminating the image. No, they don't make the Mona Lisa six feet tall, but they did their job...and looked fabulous while doing so! The names and logos are fantastic, plus the shapes are like a 1950s Cadilac in miniature. I love them and want them all. I have one that belonged to my parents, plus a couple of others picked up along the way--including a recent addition from an estate sale. All fantastic, sexy little things...I even included some bootie shots for all of you über art history nerds out there.