Behold the Enterprise Stereopticon with a Seroco Acetylene Light, advertised in the 1902 Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue—the “highest grade” of lantern made.
The full set came with a Seroco generator and a Simplex burner for firing the acetylene, a high power single stereopticon with carrying case, a 120 square-foot white screen, 52 transparent views in a polished wood case, and an accompanying lecture, bound in book form for easy reading by the operator to the audience.
There were several topics available: some of the most popular lectures were patriotic and military: The Maine and the Cuban War, the Boer-English War; religious and travel: the Passion Play Series, Life of Christ on Earth and—one of my favorites—Around the World in Eighty Minutes, a precursor, perhaps, to the more familiar (to us) eighty-day hot air balloon excursion.
There were eighty views in this series, so the audience saw one scene per minute.
For a more grim entertainment, you could see The Assassination of President McKinley, “a valuable memento of the sad event whereby the nation was deprived of its president.” It includes a view “of the assassin himself, taken within ten minutes of his capture by the police.”
Only fifteen slides in this set, but all with color added!
Sinclair Lewis might have enjoyed The Chicago Stock Yards (subtitled “From Hoof to Market”). Witness “the shipping of the animals, their reception at the stock yards, the slaughtering, curing, saving and inspecting, the manner in which the by-products are utilized…”
Fifty-five slides in this set, twelve of which had added color.
Sears pitched these stereopticon sets to young men (and women!) who might be interested in becoming self-employed—people who wished to “make money with little effort,” and find “pleasant and honorable employment.”
The entire set cost $53 (a bit over a thousand dollars today—a substantial investment), but a traveling lecturer with an established circuit could earn that in a week by renting a hall in each small town, charging admission for two or three presentations, then moving on.
Hurry; place your order!