1931. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 21x32 cm). 24 card stock leaves (5 blank). With 72 mounted gelatin silver snapshot photographs ca. 6x8,5 cm (2 ¼ x 3 ¼ in). Calligraphic white ink hand-written title on the first leaf with period black ink additions next to it. With three leaves of typewritten captions to seventy photos attached to one of the blank leaves. Period dark olive pebbled cloth album fastened with a string. Album very mildly rubbed on extremities, but the photos are bright and sound. Overall a very good album.
Historically significant collection of unique snapshot photographs taken at the end of 1931 during a tour across the facilities of the “Anglo-Persian Oil Company” in Abadan and the company’s famous oil fields at Masjed Soleyman (modern-day Iran); other interesting photos show Rutbah Wells and Baghdad (both in Iraq), Jerusalem, Nazareth, Lake Tiberias, Suez Canal, etc. The photos illustrate the early history of the “Anglo-Persian Oil Company,” the first explorer of oil in Iran and a monopolist of the Iranian oil industry for over half a century. The company, mostly known under the generalized name of “British Petroleum,” is now “one of the world’s largest oil companies” (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Its facilities in Iran have been nationalized in 1951 and since then belong to the “National Iranian Oil Company.”
The tour was led by a famous Anglican priest and a founder of the Toc H Christian movement Philip “Tubby” Clayton. The Toc H (morse abbreviation for “Talbot House”) started in 1915 with a small club for British soldiers fighting the Battle of Ypres, opened to provide them with moral and spiritual support. By the end of his life, Clayton had founded over a thousand Toc H branches across the British Empire and had taken several world tours visiting them. His connection with the “Anglo-Persian Oil Company” started in 1927, when APOC’s chairman John Cadman (1877-1941) who was Clayton’s friend, asked him to appoint a chaplain for the company’s refinery station in Abadan. During WW2, Clayton became the chaplain for the whole company (then known as the “Anglo-Iranian Oil Company”), as well for the Anglo-Saxon tanker fleet, and regularly accompanied the tankers on their runs between the Persian Gulf and Britain.
During their “Christmas Pilgrimage” in December 1931 – January 1932 “Tubby” Clayton and his companions Stanley Clapham and Harry Chappell flew to Galilee via Paris and Athens and stayed overnight on Lake Tiberias. On their flight to Baghdad they had to stop overnight and spend the Christmas Eve at the Imperial Airways rest station at Rutbah Wells (Ar-Rutbah, modern-day Iraq), where “for the first time since the War, I [Tabby] had the joy of ministering to Germans” (to a group of German tourists, see: Harcourt, M. The Impudent Dreamer: the Story of Tubby Clayton. New York: Oxford University Press, 1953, p. 218). “They reached Abadan on Christmas afternoon, in time for the Evening Service, and a late night. From there visits were made to Teheran, Ahwaz, Haft Kel, Mohammerah, Barsah, and Masjid-i- Suliman, usually known as “Fields,” the old main oilfield from where the pipelines run down for about one hundred and forty miles to Abadan. At Abadan they were shown over the Refinery – a complicated mass of pipes, coolers, cleaners, furnaces, and roller airways. A special display by the fire brigade, manned solely by Persians, was put on for Tubby’s benefit. In his best Pickwickian mood, he radiated joy and delight, as he watched them rush from the station, light a fire in a good-sized tank half full of oil, don gas masks, and prepare to rescue one of their comrades. Only one hitch occurred; they had failed to connect the pumps, and the fire was out when they got to it. Tubby pronounced it a most successful afternoon. Cairo and Alexandria were visited, with gatherings of the local Toc H Groups, on the way to Suez where they – Tubby and Chappell, Stanley Clapham having gone on to Bombay to the Mission to Seamen – joined the homeward bound tanker, British Princess” (Harcourt, M. idem, pp. 218-219).
The album contains seventy-two well-annotated photos with a typewritten list of captions at the rear. Thirty-five closely relate to the “Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s” sites in and around Adaban. Interesting images show the town of Adaban (“the Tank Farm,” the mess and the club), the town of Ahwaz “from across the river,” three scenes with native “boy scouts” marching down a street in Ahwaz, “railhead of Persian railway,” “on the road to Fields, at the ferry crossing” (most likely, at the Karun River). Very important are the photos of the Masjid-i-Suliman oil fields, showing “an oil rigg,” “Discovery Well,” “making mud for drilling,” “gas separators at Fields” (exterior and interior), “aerodrome at Fields,” the ancient temple of Tembi, Korun River valley and gorge, surrounding mountains, a “tribesman,” and one view “at Haft Kel.” Several photos portray “Tubby” Clayton (“overlooking Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee,” posing at Rutbah Wells), and his companions (“Stanley [Clapham] at Fields,” etc.).
Six photos were taken at the Rutbah Wells rest station and show the “Imperial Airways” planes, the mess building from the distance, and the travellers posing to the camera and “building a cairn in the desert at sunset.” The rest of the photos show the mountains of Greece and Asia Minor taken from a plane, Lake Tiberias, Capernaum Temple, “shepherds on hills of Galilee,” Baghdad (“from roof of R.C. Cathedral,” “derelict houses in centre of City”), Nazareth, Jerusalem (general view from the Mount of Olives, the Church of Holy Sepulcher, street views), Suez and Port Said, and portraits of “Tubby’s” companions and crew members on board the “British Princess.”
Overall a rare historically significant collection of original photos depicting the facilities of the “Anglo-Persian Oil Company” in the early 1930s.
Price: $3,500.00 USD