ca. 1907-9. Oblong quarto album ca. 18x29 cm (7 x 11 ½ in). 69 card stock leaves (5 blank). With 127 original gelatin silver photos (one loosely inserted, the rest are mounted), the vast majority ca. 11,5x16 cm (4 ½ x 6 ¼ in), with five large photos ca. 15x20 cm (6x8 in), and three smaller photos ca. 7x15 cm (2 ¾ x 6 in) and smaller. All but one photo captioned and/or dated and/or numbered in pencil or white ink on the lower margins or on the mounts. Period maroon quarter cloth album with marbled papered boards, album fastened with a string. Album rubbed on extremities, several images with mild silvering, but overall a very good album of strong interesting images.
Historically significant, detailed and well-annotated collection of original lively images taken by a resident of the American-administrated Panama Canal Zone during the first years of its existence. According to the Isthmian Canal Convention of 1904, the control over the construction of the Panama Canal, and the administration of the area stretching on both sides of the future Canal for about five miles fell under the control of the United States, and stayed as such until 1979 when the Canal Zone was abolished and Panama Canal went under the joint control of the United States and Panama (was fully turned over to Panama in 1999).
Our album dates back to the first 5 years after the creation of the Canal Zone, and to the time of the active construction of the Canal itself (it was completed in 1914). The photographer was most likely one of the American engineers or other white-collar workers employed during the construction. He travelled to the Canal Zone on board the steamship “Panama” with his family and was provided with a house in the “family quarters” of Empire town (Spanish “Emperador,” was located south of Las Cascadas), where the headquarters of the Canal administration and engineers were located.
The album contains over twenty interesting photographs of Empire – a general view of the town with “Canal just beyond near hill,” views of “Our house,” Disbursing office, bachelor and family quarters, the mess hall (interior and balcony), Chinese vegetable gardens which provided the Zone with fresh produce (on one photo the Americans pose with a gardener in front of his hut), tennis courts, cricket field with the players, “native huts, back of Empire,” and others. There are also over fifteen portraits of the American residents of Empire and Ancon towns, with most names captioned underneath: “Collins, writer for Sat. Evening Post” (likely, James Hiram Collins, 1873-1943, American writer and journalist), “Cleland, Wilma & Marty McDevit”, “Pickens family”, “Carlson, Brown, Squires” and other gentlemen photographed in the bachelor quarters, “Mr. & Mrs. Jackson,” “Peggy U. & cousin Stanley Kelly,” Storla family posing in their house in Ancon, a group portrait of “Tennis enthusiasts” (with several names added - Squires, Poole, Manley, Keeling, Hosletter), et al.
Other interesting photos show the Camacho Reservoir, gate house and spillway; American houses in Las Sabanas, several views of the road to Sabanas (featuring Ancon Hill in distance, and an officer of “Panamanian Mounted Police” riding a horse), Hotel «Tivoli» in Ancon, a Decanville steam railway engine with an American woman posing in the engineer’s seat, several portraits of Afro-Panamanians, including a portrait of a newly-wed couple captioned “our <…?> Boy’s wedding.” There are also several views of Cristobal town on the Atlantic coast showing the Cristobal Point taken from the sea, “De Lesseps building” (old French Canal Headquarters with the statue of Christopher Columbus in front, the statue was moved in 1916 and 1930, and is now located on the Juan Demóstenes Arosemena Boulevard), the waterfront, and Tortoise Lagoon. Eight photos depict a pleasure trip down the Chagres River to Fort San Lorenzo and show the Americans boarding a small river steamer at Gatun, Chagres River, ruins of the fort and the members of the group posing in front of the “old powder magazine.” Another eight pictures illustrate a trip to the ancient town of Las Cruces on the upper Chagres River, now abandoned due to the rise of the Lake Gatun; the pictures show the trail to Las Cruces, the town and its Afro-Panamanian inhabitants.
Over twenty photos depict Panama City: the harbour at low tide, boats of “coastwise shipping,” the seawall, interior of a “jail yard,” entrance and interior of the President’s Palace, “Government Opera House,” the Church of Santo Domingo and the famous Flat Arch (built in 1678, burned in 1756 and was ruined ever since; the flat arch eventually fell in 2003 and was later restored), “the Cathedral & Plaza,” the Church of Santa Ana, La Mercedes church, street views (the one with playing children is captioned “Panama playground”); a scene of a bull fight on Plaza Herrera, the spectators; the Old Panama City (ruins of the bridge of over moat and Cathedral of San Jeronimo) and others. There are also several views of the Caribbean Sea and the “Panama” steamship taken on the way to Cristobal. Overall an historically important first-hand visual account on the early years of the Panama Canal Zone.
Price: $3,500.00 USD