Monday, October 30, 2006

What The Butler Saw

"In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated."

-August Sander

Virginia City, Nevada, has a lot to offer the amateur photographer. A lovely old-west feel, gorgeous churches, and history, history, history... and maybe a ghost or two if you are lucky. When I visited that intriguing town last week, I was determined to stop into the Delta Saloon, to photograph the famous, "Suicide Table." That particular attraction has quite a story behind it, and I will be sharing it's story in an upcoming entry, but for this entry, I thought I might share about another interesting bit of history I found in the saloon, the Quartoscope.

The Quartoscope works on the same design as the Mutoscope, which was an early motion picture device. Similar to Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope, the device works not be projecting a picture onto a screen, but rather by a flip-book action, in which individual images are put onto heavy flexible cards and bound into a booklet, then the cards are attached to a circular core within the machine. About 850 cards could be held at once, and as the viewer turned the hand crank on the side of the machine, the images played out different views, but quite often the patron would be viewing, "girlie" reels or sometimes even soft core porn.

The Mutoscope was more commonly known in England as, "What The Butler Saw," machines, named after one of the film reels that was popular in the late 19th century. Eventually the machines came under quite a bit of public condemnation for their "vicious and demoralizing" influence on young males who may have viewed the movie reels. While these machines were most often found in amusement parks and arcades, there were many of these machines which showed a variety of short films, not all were of the risque type.

We didn't view the film that was on this particular Quartoscope, but I did have a chance to take a peek inside and here is what I saw...

Quarterscope (Mutoscope)

The first image is mine, I was too short to get a good shot, so Alan took the second photo for me. Even on tippy-toes I was a little too short. Oh well... he is such a sport! LOL. Kinda cool huh? :) Just think, that lady (Pin-up girl) was probably somebody's grandmother!

Delta Saloon
Virginia City, Nevada
October 25, 2006


Gaboatman said...

Very interesting and educational. I had never heard of the mutoscope or quartoscope. I have seen these machines before, but had no idea what they were called. Nice of Alan to help you out with the second shot. Looking to see more of your vacation discoveries!

DesLily said...

I think I remember those machines along a boardwalk here in the east. But that's when I was young... you know around the time of covered wagons! lol

Karen Funk Blocher said...

I love the detail on the outside of this thing, the lettering and the curlicues.

Becky said...

Geesh...she looks like MY grandmother!!!