Ca. 1926-1927. Four similarly bound albums, all Oblong Folio (ca. 30x40 cm). Each album with 24 card stock leaves and tissue guards. The albums contain 114, 196, 194, 206 = 710 mounted original gelatin silver photographs, the vast majority are ca. 6,5x9 cm (2 ½ x 3 ½ in), about a dozen photos are ca. 8x11 cm (3 x 4 ¼ in). No captions. With three loosely inserted gelatin silver photos: one ca. 12,5x17 cm (5 x 6 ¾ in), and two ca. 20,5x27 cm (8 x 10 ½ in); the smaller photo with an ink stamp “Photo Georg Zschäpitz, Leipzig” on verso, the larger photos captioned in negative “Liberia-Expedition. Dr. Gebbing.” With 17 mounted real photo postcards my M. Dinklage Jr., Monrovia, each ca. 8,5x13,5 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ¼ in), with printed captions on rectos and printed studio’s name on versos. The poster: Durch bekanntes Africa: Dr. Gebbing’s Forschungsexpedition durch das Hinterland der Negerrepublik Liberia. Film des Ringes Deutscher Kulturfilm-Bühnen E.U. Leipzig: Mehner & Maas, ca. 1927. Ca. 60x89 cm (23 ¼ x 35 in). Lithographed signature: “Hartwig, Leipzig.” Ink stamp “Genehmigt Filmprüffelle Berlin. 19 Nov. 1927.” Minor tear on the upper margin neatly repaired, otherwise a very good poster. Four period beige cloth albums fastened with strings; colour printed ornaments on the front boards; two albums with paper labels “Foto-Hanne, FotoSpecialgeschäft, Leipzig” on the inner sides of the rear covers. Bindings slightly rubbed on extremities, one album with the upper string broken, a few images slightly faded, a number of spaces for the photos are empty, but there is no evidence the photos have ever been mounted there; overall a very good extensive collection of interesting photos.
Interesting extensive collection of over 700 original photographs taken during Dr. Johannes Gebbing’s expedition to northern Liberia in 1926-27 in search of new animals for the Leipzig Zoo. Four photos in the first album locate the area targeted by the expedition – the forested Liberian hinterlands on the border with French Guinea between the upper courses of the Lofa and Saint Paul Rivers. The choice of the region was possibly made due to the well-known biodiversity of Liberian forests, where there were “to be found remarkable animals, birds, and reptiles, that occur nowhere else in Africa or the world. For example, the well-known pygmy hippopotamus, the zebra antelope, Jentink’s duiker, peculiar squirrels, and other animals…” (Christy, C. Liberia in 1930// The Geographical Journal. Vol. 77, No. 6. June 1931, p. 518). The expedition party which included Dr. Gebbing, came to Monrovia by a German steamer, stayed there for some time, and then travelled to the northern Liberian forests by plane (there are ten photos of a floatplane which most likely took the party).
The Monrovia part of the journey is illustrated with about sixty photos. They include the views taken from the Mesurado lagoon and showing the Government quarter and mansions of the upper-class residents uphill and traditional thatched-roof houses close to the water, photos of Monrovia wharves, streets, markets, Mesurado River, close-up views of private and government residences, the presidential palace, German consulate (one photo features Dr. Gebbing and three German officials at the consulate’s balcony). There are also several portraits of Dr. Gebbing with native children, captive chimpanzee and pangolin, scenes of a wedding party leaving Monrovia’s Trinity Episcopal Church, a group portrait of Liberian men in police or military uniform, etc.
Most photos in the collection show Liberian villages in the backcountry and wilderness. Often taken in groups (from three to over twenty), the photos include general and street views of several villages, close-up views of native houses and fences (with details of their structures, paintings on the walls, etc.); one photo shows a Catholic missionary church in a village. A series of lively ethnographic photos show Liberian musicians playing their instruments (a brass band, players on native trumpets, a harp-like instrument), dancers, acrobats and performers (wearing traditional costumes, masks, performing on stilts, ropes, etc.) There are also a series of photos depicting dances by ordinary community members (groups of women, boys), stages of making a traditional drum, etc. Numerous photos portray people watching the performances, village chiefs, families, children, babies, adolescent girls, old people, etc., paying attention to the details of their hairdos, headscarves, costumes, jewelry, ornamental scarring, etc. There are interesting photos of a company of native soldiers marching in a village, boys learning to write Arabic, a group of children and young girls with their skin coloured in white for a ritual, men playing a game on a mat, etc. A series of over twenty photos show the stages of making cotton cloth (cotton plants, preparation of harvested cotton for spinning, spinning, weaving), finishing with portraits of men in outfits made from the cloth. Similar series depict the process of making ropes, a woven basket, grinding rice, harvesting dates and rubber, etc.
Over a dozen photos show the expedition camp and tents, porters carrying the supplies, Dr. Gebbing in a native canoe, posing with native children, resting in a folding chair, etc. About sixteen photos show native birds in the wild and their nests; there are also photos of a captured bird and a bat. Over a dozen photos show a captured pygmy hippo in a makeshift pool and enclosure, one photo shows a cage specially made for its transportation.
The loose photos show Dr. Gebbing next to giraffes in a cage, a group of Liberian soldiers, and a scene of a collective wedding in Monrovia (an enlarged copy of a photo from the first album). The two latter photos are captioned “Liberia-Expedition. Dr. Gebbing” in negative. The real photo postcards include views of Monrovia and environs and portraits of Vhei/Vai and Gola girls and children in native dress. The first album opens with 38 photos taken on the way Liberia, showing Naples, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and scenes on board the German steamer (Dr. Gebbing shaking hands with the captain and talking to passengers). Overall an interesting extensive collection of ethnographic photos from Liberia, supplemented with a colourful chromo-lithographed poster clearly inspired by the original images from the albums.
Price: $8,500.00 USD
Status: On Hold