identifier: 2014045 LANTERNCYCLIST [SOLD]
The Lantern: The Christmas Number and Year Book of The Cyclist for 1887-88.
Published by Iliffe & Son, 98 Fleet St, London & Coventry. PRICE ONE SHILLING.
Softback, size 204 x 278mm. Pagination starts on page 33 (following the unpaginated Christmas Number), and ends with page 126. The many advertising pages are extra to the 126.
Contents as follows:
First: Eighteen pages of advertisements (most advertising pages are on pink paper). Introduction, explaining that the contents are “a combination of fact and fancy…”. Thirteen plates on thick stock, one showing the year 1887 passing, and heralding 1888, and one for each month. The plates comprise drawings of mock-historical scenes appropriate to the season, three or four per page, with one picture on each page having cycling relevance.
The illustrations are all by George A W Moore, a young man who provides his self-portrait, together with those of the other contributors, on the back of the December plate.
Two pages of ads, then: ‘Our Lantern Social … Critical, Sarcastic Commentary of the doings in the Cycling World during the Year 1887’ – an extraordinary spoof description of a magic lantern show and its participants, all well known characters in the cycling world at that time. Several circular sketches of the supposed lantern slides projected at the show are included. This ‘account’ stretches over almost 40 pages (37-76), including music sheet, words to songs and recitations, all interspersed with a further 24 unpaginated pink pages of ads. These are mostly for cycles and accessories, but also include a half-page for cameras and magic lanterns by Perken Son & Rayment, and others for Kingston Dry Plates, and Shew’s Eclipse Pocket Camera.
There follows a Resume of Cycling 1887, Racing Record, Cycle Clubs of the United Kingdom, Who’s Who in Cycling, and a final article: Instantaneous Photography for Cyclists, by editor Henry Sturmey (1857-1930). He provides some useful hints on the particular requirements for the photographer of moving objects, and for their presentation suggests “no better way can be adopted than reproducing his pictures as lantern slides…”. Sturmey will be best remembered by my generation as the inventor with William Archer of the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub for bicycles.
The cover, also by George Moore, is a tour-de-force, and seems to be previously unknown in the specialist world of magic lantern research. Moore’s drawings are professional, and up to anything being published in Punch or the other major general magazines of the period. A collection of his cyclist-related cartoons from Bicycling News was re-published as a 5-volume limited edition hardback set (The George Moore Collection, Beekay, 1979-82), but I have not seen these, which are fairly scarce. Moore has some small fame as being responsible for the first mention of a sidecar, in a cartoon in the January 7, 1903 issue of Motor Cycling.
Although 12 pence was quite an expense, this was very good value for such a sumptuous publication. Karl Kron, author of Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle (1887) described the previous year’s annual, which is similar, as “perhaps the most elaborate and costly amount of such material ever offered for a shilling”.
This 1887-88 publication exceeds all expectations in interest, and is very rare. It does not seem to be listed on WorldCat as a separate item (one or two institutions have editions of the Year Book which have not been catalogued by date), and variations in the title wording on the cover and the title page, and cataloguers’ variants, make it difficult to look for. I have been able to trace only one other known example, in the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian. The National Cycling Archive, University of Warwick possibly has one too, the cataloguing is ambiguous.
The main text block is in generally very good condition, clean and bright. The cover has some minor paper loss from the spine and front top corner, corner loss on back, is foxed and has two ink stains on the front. Sellotape has been removed, leaving residue staining. Small tears to the front cover have been closed with professional repair tissue on the blank borders of the inside of the cover. The rear cover has recently been strengthened with Japanese tissue where it joins the text block, and at the outer edge, to enable the item to be read without the risk of further damage. There have been no other new repairs. The staples are showing rust. The item is housed in a new custom-made clam shell box in blue bookcloth.