Ca. 1904-1909 (with a few later family photos). Over two hundred loose gelatin silver photos of various size, including one photo ca. 12x15,5 cm (4 ½ x 6 ¼ in, split in half), and two small photos ca. 5x7,5 cm (2 x 2 ¾ in); the majority of the photos are from ca. 8x14 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ½ in) to ca. 7,5x10 cm (3x4 cm). Two photos captioned (one dated “05”) in negative, one photo captioned and dated “Aug. 1909” on recto; eleven photos signed “Fred. A. Pape,” numbered and captioned in ink on versos; 66 photos captioned, and sometimes signed and dated in ink or pencil on versos (some by Pape, and some later by his son). With twelve photos printed as postcards, ca. 8,5x14 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ½ in), two in two copies, several with period pencil captions on versos.
Including 84 family photos of Pape, his wife and son: 51 original gelatin silver photos from ca. 8,5x14 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ½ in) to ca. 7x10 cm (2 ¾ x 3 ¾ in), several in multiple copies, ca. 30 captioned and some dated (1905-1911) in pencil on versos; and 33 photos printed as postcards (same size as the other “postcard” photos, several in two or more copies, over twenty with period ink or pencil captions on recto or verso). One photo split in half, but no losses, a few images slightly faded, a few with minor creases and tears, a couple with losses of corners; overall a very good collection of interesting images.
Historically significant extensive photo collection showing the construction and the beginning of operation of the first sisal rope factory in British East Africa. The factory in Voi (Taita-Taveta County of modern-day southern Kenya) belonged to an American-owned “Afro-American Trading & Navigation Company,” which “was the first to start operations there, the concession being granted in February 1905, and work started six months later” (Playne, S., Holderness Gale, F. East Africa (British): Its History, People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources. The Foreign and Colonial Compiling and Publishing Co, 1908-09, p. 136). The company received “a concession at Voi, one mile from the railway station, of 100 square miles of land…” and planted it with sisal and rubber trees. “The machinery, housed in sheds of steel frames and iron roofs, consists of two sets of “Finnigan” decorticators, lathe, scutching machine, and a brass foundry (where all casting required is done)” (ibid.) The factory was serviced by two engines, 6 ½ miles of trolley lines, rails, 23 trucks and two hand-geared presses (ibid.) According to the caption on one of the photos from the collection, the factory continued its operations well into the 1930s (see below).
The photos were taken by the chief manager of the Voi factory Frederic Augustus Pape who supervised its construction in spring 1905. Pape worked there until 1907 when a new manager A.C. Ward replaced him (Playne, Holderness Gale, p. 138). Over forty photos show different stages of the factory’s construction and early operation - laying the foundations and raising the frame of the machine house, “railway building in the bush,” “one of our water trolleys delivering water to the mortar-men at the building,” trolley lines and railway carts loaded with bales of fibre, the steam engine; interior of the completed machine house, “new addition to machine house and the Bocken machine under it to the left,” “the Bocken machine, set up ready for working,” “broken wheels from the Finigan Zabinski machine <…>”, etc. There are also several interesting group and individual portraits of native factory workers, many of which were teens and children - “Wa Teita boys getting the fibre leaves ready for the machine,” a native girl “cutting a rope, native style” (with her teeth), native children lining up with the bunches of fibre in front of the machine house (Pape present on two pictures), “Group of Wa Teita in our Employ. April 1905” (featuring teenagers and kids), labourers pulling heavy carts with bales of processed fibre to the Voi railway station, etc. A large photo split in half shows the “Voi works of the Afro-American Trading & Navigation Co, the first fibre plant put into operation under direction and management of Mr. Pape. Taken Aug. 1905. In the foreground, the native boys are splitting the fibre stalks.”
Other interesting photos include several views of the Church Missionary Society’s station on the Sagalla mountain near Voi, showing the station from the distance, the mission house with the head of the station Rev. J. Wray and his wife, the Wrays with native children, “Mrs. Lane & Austin visiting Sagalla – First Lady of Mombasa…” (the wife of C.R.W. Lane, H.M. Sub-Commissioner), and “corrugated iron church in Sagalla. Negroes carried each a sheet of the cor. iron for over a hundred miles to build this church” (captioned later by Pape’s son). There are also photos of Pape’s house in Mombasa (near the Memorial Cathedral, the street sign “Macdonald Terrace” on the house is seen) and the cathedral itself - then under construction (“the Episcopal Cathedral almost directly opposite us. Neary finished. April 1st, 1905”). Other photos show Pape’s house at the Caravan Rd. near the Voi factory, his dog, pet monkey, and a baby kongoni antelope (all of them later fell victims to a leopard), “a company of native soldiers marching just past our house <…> to the R.R. station to go to Nairobi,” “Voi River at Caravan Rd. Crossing,” landscapes around Sagalla, “in the foothills, Usambaru,” and others. A group portrait depicts a “Parsee family who lived next door to us in Mombasa. Named Sorabjee” - most likely, the family of “Mr. Sorabjee, <…> a forwarding and clearing agent [in Mombasa], and also a purchasing agent for up-country people <…>” who built “the English Cathedral in Mombasa <…>, and also the Government Treasury, Government bungalows, and National Bank of India…” (Playne, Holderness Gale, p. 120).
Eleven photos portray Kenyan Taita people – women and girls (with attention to their jewellery, brass bracelets, and ornamental scarring), “M’Teita Chief,” children in a “native perambulator,” and show “native dwellings.” Several photos have later captions left by Pape’s son Frederic Mitchell Pape (1904-1987), i.e. “The Machine House, 11th May 1905. I happened to look at this May 9, 1935. Thirty years ago. I hear the enterprise still produces fibre. F.M.P.” The family photos (many in multiple copies) depict Pape, his wife Iva Mitchell Pape (ca. 1867 - after 1942), toddler son “Fred” or ‘Fritzie” and his “ayah” (nanny) in Mombasa, Sagalla, and Voi, including photos baby Fred and Iva “among drying fibre in Voi,” baby Fred with Mrs. Wray of Sagalla (1 Oct. 1905), baby Fred on the balcony of their house in Mombasa with the roof of the Cathedral in the background, “Fritz and his Mamma on the verandah of the Mission House of the Rev. Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Wray. Sagalla, Oct. 1905,” etc.
Overall an interesting extensive collection of original photos from the early years of American sisal industries in Kenya.
Born in Kassel (Germany), F.A. G. Pape immigrated to Australia in 1882 and thence to New York. In the 1900s-1920s he worked in South and East Africa, England, and Brazil. Together with H.H. Smith, Pape co-authored the book “Coco-nuts: the consols of the East, with special sections on their cultivation in the West Indies…” (London: Tropical Life, 1912). We also found his article “Tropical Eastern Africa,” published in the “United Empire” (No. 7, 1916, pp. 391-397). Pape died in 1924 in Pernambuco, Brazil, apparently of a heart attack.
Price: $2,500.00 USD