Ca. 1898-1900. Oblong Quarto (ca. 22,5x28 cm). 16 card stock leaves. With 58 original gelatin silver photographs, from ca. 9,5x12,5 cm (3 ¾ x 4 ¾ in) to ca. 7,5x10 cm (3x4 in). All but two photos with period manuscript captions on the mounts, over thirty images with visible numbers in negatives (right lower corners). Period ink inscription (in the same hand as the captions) on verso of the first leaf. Period black half morocco album with dark green cloth boards; spine with raised bands and gilt-tooled borders; marbled endpapers. A few images mildly faded, mounts with occasional minor foxing, joints neatly repaired, cloth worn and stained, rear free endpaper replaced with a similar marbled paper, but overall a very good album.
Rare important visual source of the history of the first years of the West African Frontier Force (WAFF, 1897-1960) and the beginnings of the British Northern Nigeria Protectorate (1900-1914). The photos in the album were taken by a WAFF officer or a specially engaged photographer and illustrate the Force’s early activities on the middle Niger River north and west of Lokoja town, where the lack of the established border between the British Royal Niger Company (the Northern Nigeria Protectorate from January 1, 1900), and the native kingdoms, including the French-controlled Dahomey, was causing constant tension throughout the 1890s. The photos are from ca. 1898-1900, show the new territories that were annexed to the Royal Niger Company in spring-summer 1898 – the Borgu kingdom with the centre in Kyama (Kaiama), and the lands of the Emirs of Lapai and Argeye (Agaie). There are several views of the towns of Argeye, Kyama (with a group of British officers and native soldiers posing on a square), and Lapai (two views of decorative ornaments on the walls of native houses). The album also includes a dozen individual and group portraits of the WAFF officers and privates, with over twenty names captioned in ink. The photos perfectly follow the history of the WAFF’s early years and were captioned by one of its commanders, Sir James Willcocks (1857-1926, WAFF Second-in-command since March 1898 and Acting Commandant in August 1898- January 1900), and most manuscript captions are explained in Willcocks’ book (Willcocks, J. From Kabul to Kumassi: Twenty-four Years of Soldiering and Sport, London, 1904. Chapters XII-XV). Among the identified people on the portraits are Willcocks himself, Major Reade (“Shropshire Light Infantry, second in command of the 1st battalion, now Commandant of the Royal Military College, Kingston, Canada” – Willcocks, p. 215), Lt. R.L. McClintock (an assistant to the first WAFF Commander Frederick Lugard), Major C. Robertson (Commander of the WAFF artillery), Colonel Pilcher (of the Northumberland Fusiliers, commander of the WAFF 1st battalion, a Brevet Colonel, C.B., A.D.C. to the King), Major Arnold (D.S.O., Commandant of the Royal Niger Company’s Constabulary, Willcocks p. 170), Hon. R.F. Somerset (Grenadier Guards, Adjutant of the WAFF 2nd Battalion), Lt. Brodie (Seaforth Highlanders), Captain Turner (Royal Engineers), Lt. Abadie (Royal Scotts), Captain Charles Crutchley (“of my own British Battalion, was acting as A.D.C.,” Willcocks, p. 205), S.W. Poole (“Our popular P.M.O., the late Dr. Poole…” Willcocks, p. 211).
Other interesting photos show the troops of the WAFF and the River Niger Company’s Constabulary at musketry and artillery training, “cleaning arms,” parading and playing in a drum band at the Lokoja headquarters and the camp in Jebba; two photos show the “Interior of Officers’ quarters” and the “anteroom, mess, R. Niger Constabulary.” There are also photos of the River Niger’s company steamer “Empire,” HM gunboat “Heron” (served on the Niger in 1898-99) and the surf boat of another British military steamer on the Niger HMS “Jackdaw;” group portraits of “Heron’s” crew and naval officers, including Lt. Melville and Lt. Bellairs (died from black-water fever in July 1898, Willcocks, p. 210). One photo shows three young British women having tea on board the H.M.S. “Jackdaw” who turned out to be “the three nursing sisters attached to the medical department – Miss Sarah Clarke, Miss Minnie Powell, and Sister Mary Nutt. They had been sent out by the Colonial Office at Lugard’s suggestion and were the first English women who ever got as far as Jebba” (Willcocks, p. 210).
The other interesting photos show the town of Lokoja, Jebba Island and Juju Rock, “native chief and suite,” a native African sergeant major of the River Niger Constabulary, “Nupe canoemen,” bed of the upper Niger River during the dry season, villages in the Niger delta, a collection of Nigerian hand-crafted “curios” and others. Overall an important primary source on the history of the West African Frontier Force and British rule in the middle Niger River.
Price: $4,500.00 USD