Ca. 1910. Oblong Folio album (ca. 25x33,5 cm). 26 card stock leaves. With 24 mounted gelatin silver photographs, the majority are ca. 21x26,5 cm (8 ¼ x 10 ½ in) or slightly smaller; two small photos are ca. 15,5x21,5 cm (6 x 8 ½ in). All but one photo are captioned in negative (over a dozen also dated May or August 1910 in negative). Thirteen photos are signed in negative (nine – by Hiesinger, three – by Sebah, and one – by Dittrich). Period olive green cloth album with a gilt-lettered title “The Upper Egypt Irrigation Cy.” on the front board. Housed in the original green card box. Several images with mild silvering, box worn on extremities and bumped; but the album is in very good condition with strong interesting photos.
Historically important rare photos showing the first year of operation of the German-owned “Upper Egypt Irrigation Company” which built a system of mechanized irrigation canals in Upper Egypt (apparently, near Aswan) in 1909-1910. The company was founded by one Arno Werther, a Munich entrepreneur based in Cairo, who around the same time also established the “Aegyptishe Frucht- und Waldfarmen Gesellschaft” and the “Upper Egypt Artesian Boring Co.” (Schanz, M. La Culture du Coton en Égypte et au Soudan Anglo-Égyptien. Étude préséntée au Neuvième Congrès International Cotonnier, Scheveningen. 9-11 juin 1913, pp. 19 and 38). Werther tried to benefit from building his canals next to the sugar cane plantations of major Egyptian sugar refineries, but his enterprise didn’t succeed, and the company announced its liquidation in early 1914 (Anvers-Bourse. Journal Quotidien du sour. No. 46. 25 février 1914, p. 3). According to an optimistic article dated 1910, the “Upper Egypt Irrigation Company” became “the first German irrigation company formed in Egypt… [it owned] 400 wells of great capacity which can supply the water needed for irrigating 42800 feddan (1 feddan = 4200 sq. m.). The Company has a subscribed capital of 500 000 Egyptian pounds, and in accordance with an old Egyptian law, it is entitled to one-third of the crops obtained on the lands it irrigates. Phosphate deposits are found in the neighbourhood. Thus all the conditions required for obtaining three crops a year are combined. The district which comes under the sphere of influence of the Company is especially suited to the cultivation of cotton and of sugar cane…” (Bulletin of the Bureau of Agricultural Intelligence and of Plant-Diseases. November 1910/ International Institute of Agriculture. Rome, 1910, p. 30).
The album opens with three earlier photos by Jean-Pascal Sebah and Paul Dittrich showing traditional Egyptian irrigation installations – shadoofs and sakkieh water wheels. The rest of the photos show the modern irrigation system built by the Upper Egypt Navigation Company – new stations, “maschinenhaus No. 3,” completed canals – yet empty and already filled with water, a construction camp, waters flowing to the fields of sugar cane and corn. One photo shows the contrast between irrigated fields densely covered with corn, and dry land which would bring harvest if irrigated. The photos feature German administrators (possibly, Werther himself), and Egyptian chiefs and workers. One large group portrait shows Germans and Egyptians in front of a building with the sign “Installation No. 4. 1909. The Upper Egypt Irrigation Cy.” The locations of the photographed sites are: Reisije/ Raisye, Halfaia, Fan, Samaina, Kelh, and Hellela/ Helela. Nine photos bear the signature of a Cairo-based German photographer Daniel Hiesinger who later became known for the portraits of WW1 prisoners-of-war detained in the camps on Malta where he was detained himself. Overall an interesting detailed photo documentation of the activities of a German irrigation company in early 20th-century Egypt.
Price: $2,250.00 USD