Ca. early 1900s. Folio album (ca. 28x18 cm). 49 card stock leaves with mounted photos, followed by over 40 blank leaves. With ca. 163 mounted original gelatin silver photographs of various size, from ca. 11x25 cm (4 ¼ x 10 in) to ca. 5x6 cm (2 x 2 ½ in), the majority are ca. 9x11 cm (3 ½ x 4 ¼ in). Seven photos captioned in negative, one also signed “C. Smith, Port Cortes” in negative. With 70 loose photos (including ca. 40 duplicates, some in several copies), from ca. 12x22 cm (4 ½ x 8 ¾ in) to ca. 5x7,5 cm (2x3 in), 24 with period pen or pencil captions on verso, one with an ink caption on recto. With five Autograph letters signed, each ca. 27,5x21 cm (11 x 8 ¼ in), each on the printed letterhead of the “Honduras Railroad Company,” dated from May 20 to July 1, 1903, in all 10 pp. of text. With six printed postcards (three mounted and three loosely inserted); and several related ephemera (see the list below). Period light brown full cloth album with a gilt-lettered title label on the spine. Album with front hinge cracked, several photos faded, several loose photos with tears and losses on the extremities, three letters written on age-toned brittle paper with splits on folds; but overall a very good collection.
Rare with this level of coverage and detail, historically important collection of original photos and ephemera related to the early years of the American community, business and railway construction in Honduras. The collection was compiled by Dr. Charles Smith, an American vice-consul in Puerto Cortes in the early 1900s; apparently, he took most of the photos (one of them is captioned in negative by Smith). The album contains over 160 original mounted photos, supplemented with almost thirty loose ones; about forty duplicates give a valuable supplement to the collection, as some of them contain interesting captions, and many are brighter than the mounted copies.
The photos show Puerto Cortes (wharf, military hospital, Christian missions, streets), stations, tracks and cars of the Honduras Railroad - at the time the only railway in the country (Rio Blanco, bridge construction near Choloma, train wreck, a trolley, etc.), San Pedro Sula, Tela, ruins of the Omoa fortress, Honduran people and their houses (women, girls, families, people washing clothes in a river), members of the American community (Smith and his family, servants, friends, at home, on picnics, celebrating Christmas etc.), public celebrations (apparently, of the Fourth of July). Several photos show armed Honduran men posing with national flags, next to an artillery gun, in train cars, mounted on horses; an interesting photo shows two Americans posing with mummies. Overall a valuable collection of original documents on the early history of American business in Honduras.
Photos captioned in negative: “Rio Blanco, S.H.,” “Prisoner & Guard, San Pedro, S.H.,” “Military Hospital, Port Cortes, Span. Hond.,” “Wesleyan mission, Port Cortes, S.H.,” “St. John’s mission, Port Cortes, Span. Honduras,” “Choloma, Dec. 19/02, C. Smith, Port Cortes,” “Xmas 1902, Port Cortes, S. Honduras.”
Some of the manuscript captions:
“Native huts, Rio Blanco;” “Street of San Pedro;” “Trolley service in Port Cortes;” “Entering wharf at Port Cortez;” “Court House, City Hall, School, Jail & Dancing Hall, Tela;” “R.R. Bldg. & wharf, Port Cortez;” “Carib. Indian bathing, Tela;” “the dory that I came in from Tela to Pt. Cortez;” “Ready to load in dory, constructing new bridge;” “Mama Rosa – seller of pines., basket carried by strap over forehead, she called down vengence [sic!] of heaven for taking her photo;” “Outing at Baracoa, special train in background, May 21st 1902, Central America;” [Smith’s wife and daughter with black servants next to a railway car with the letters “H.R.R.” on the side; captioned] “The one and only car, cost $4.50 in N.A. = large tree coconut;”
[A group of American residents posing in front of a “Dentista” office; captioned]: “To right, door window and side slated door takes in office, next window on side dining room, in back of that pantry window, to left of front door Chas. Bedroom, in back of that our room, tree to left royal or cabbage palm;”
[A view of a beach house, captioned:] “Back view of house showing kitchen, wood-house, and pantry with towel of window. Annie & Edwin at one window of kitchen, myself at the other. Margaret & Frank on the beach, the children play-yard.”
Ephemera & keepsake items:
Two ribbons from the Honduran 1903 presidential election, one red and one blue, each ca. 5,5x16,5 cm (2 ¼ x 6 ½ in); each with a printed text: “Dios, Union, Libertad. Presidencia Constitucional de la Republica 1903 a 1907. ¡Viva el Egregio Ciudadano. Doctor Don Juan Angel Arias. Un Recuerdo. Republica de Honduras. P. Cortez.”
Menu of the dinner celebrating the presidency of Juan Andel Arias Boquin (in office: 1 February – 13 April 1903): dated “Puerto Cortez, Febrero 28 de 1903”, ca. 10,5x12 cm, gilt-lettered text, with the original envelope.
Official typewritten letter to Charles Smith signed by Charles H. Johnson, Secretary of the “Honduras Syndicate, operating Honduras Railroad”. Dated “New York, 1 July 1903.” With the original envelope.
One printed postcard and four envelopes addressed to Smith, dated 1902-1903; three envelopes addressed to Port/Puerto Cortes, and one addressed to New York (with the printed letterhead “Honduras Railroad”); two-period American newspaper clippings about Honduras.
Official testimony signed on April 23, 1901 in Sand Pedro Sula about the sale of a horse to W.A. Chard (a Honduras Railroad associate, see the letter from June 30, 1903); ca. 35x22 cm (13 ¾ x 8 ¾ in), brown ink on official paper with a watermark “Estado de Honduras” and several official ink stamps.
The printed postcards show San Pedro Sula and British Honduras (Beliza). The collection is supplemented with several loose photos and two glass plates with family pictures from the United States, including a family group portrait taken in front of a house with a sign “Dr. Chas. Smith.”
Some excerpts from the letters:
Puerto Cortes, May 20, 1903: “Recd. your letter yesterday, it followed you to NY and then came back here. I enclose you your letter and the statement for the year to date with the exception of <…?> this month. […?] is chief inspector for a new co. that has come in here, he continues to deliver his fruit to the F.Co. I will write and ask him for his statement, the new Fruit Co. got 5000 bunches last week and next week they expect to get 10[…?] We have all been sick, I for a week, Frank had two days of it and Annie has been sick since Sunday with fever…”
Pto. Cortes, June 24, 1903: “You will probably remember […?] who was building the wharf here, he got drunk one Saturday pm. and stayed on in for two or three days, then he quit ad was taken with fever and on the following Saturday nyght [sic!] he got at attack of D[elirium?]. S[yndrome]., got a revolver and for two hours kept a young fellow who was rooming with him on his knees or in looking out for some one who was after him. At about 3 o’clock he stumbled[?] and fell, the revolver going off, the bullet […?] over the left eye and taking the top of his head clean off, we buried him at the Curve. Sunday afternoon a few days before Mrs. McNeil (the sky pilot’s wife) gave birth to a child (the 18th), a hemorage started in and she died and was buried at the Curve. <…> We are not going to S.P. to the Ball. We are going to have one here by ourselves, we are to take Chambers Barges and lash them together, deck them over making a dancing pavillion, tow them out in the bay and anchor. We have ordered about $40 gold fireworks, 12 watermelons, Chinese lanterns, ice cream cake, lemonade…”
June 25, 1903: “Mrs. Barrossi wants the prescription of her tonic and also for tablets she has been taking. I enclose your letter etc. which I think are what you want. Have an offer of 75,00 for your bed, think I will sell…”
June 30, 1903: “Mr. & Mrs. Greely came in yesterday, they are both looking very well. They brought us some cherries and nothing has tasted so good, to me they beat candy. Hardy, Greely, Wood, Lot, La Blanc and Chard are out of a R.R. job. Will is looking after the wharf and lighthouse, but he will not get more than his expenses out of it <…> Panting is time keeper. They wanted Lot to take him up the road on a trolley and show him what to do. Lot said he would show him, but he would not ride on a trolley with a niggar <…> The ladies are to have a meeting at Mrs. Hardy’s this morning to talk about the Fourth of July celebration. The people of the Port are to stay home this year, we are to have three of Chambers barques tied together, one for dancing, card tables, and refreshments, the men have sent to the States for forty dollars gold worth of fireworks, two dozen lanterns and several water melons, we expect to have a good time, if it should rain we will go to the lottery house with the understanding that the Barrosses to not have any natives or niggars there, for it is to be strictly an American affair <…> Thomsons (coloured) girl <…> died yesterday, the long-legged one, she wore shoes and no stockings, carried a basket of cakes on her head.”
Puerto Cortes, July 1, 1903: “Just a few lines to let you know we are still here. I think I told you all the news last week in reference to R.R. I have tried every way to count $110 from Mrs. Perd[…?] and the only way I see now is to sue her. I do not wish to do this unless you say so, so let me know what you want done as soon as possible. I things do not mend[?] soon I think I will <…> get north <…> I probably will start north next month or as soon as we sell out.”.
Price: $3,750.00 USD
Status: On Hold