Rare Photos of the Lago Oil Refinery and the Lago Colony in Aruba

[Album with 176 Gelatin Silver Photos Taken by a Dutch Worker on the Lago Oil and Transport Company’ Refinery in Aruba (Dutch West Indies), Including Over 130 Photos of Aruba and the Caribbean, Showing the Refinery and Its Workers, Lago Colony, Christmas and New Year Celebrations, the First Arrival of KLM Fokker F. XVIII “Snip” in December 1935, Oranjestad, Aruba Landscapes, Curacao and Maracaibo; and 38 Photos Taken in the Netherlands and Belgium in Summer 1939].

Ca. 1933-1939. Oblong Folio album (ca. 34x45,5 cm). 25 card stock leaves with tissue guards. With 176 gelatin silver photos, including four large ones ca. 17x23 cm (6 ¾ x 9 ¼ in); the rest are from ca. 12,5x17,5 cm (5 x 6 ¾ in) to ca. 5,5x8,5 cm (2 ¼ x 3 ¼ in), the majority is ca. 8,5x12 cm (3 ¼ x 4 ¾ in). Most photos with period red pencil captions in Dutch on the mounts (related to an individual image or a group of images). One photo with a period ink inscription on verso. Period custom made brown full calf album fastened with a string; the front board with very elaborate gilt-stamped ornaments, the rear board with blind-stamped ornaments; moire paste-downs. Binding rubbed on extremities and weakened on hinges, the leather on the upper board slightly splitting at lower edge; A couple of images likely previously removed, but otherwise a very good album or strong interesting photos.

Historically significant rare collection of original photos of the Lago oil refinery and the Lago Colony in Aruba, taken and collected by one of its workers in the 1930s. The Aruba oil industry started in 1924, when the “Lago Oil and Transport Co.” (later a subsidiary of the “Standard Oil Co.,” New Jersey), opened a trans-shipping facility for the Lake Maracaibo crude oil. In 1928-1929, the company built a refinery to produce finished petroleum products for the American and European markets. Next to the refinery grew the community of Lago Colony which was mostly populated by the refinery workers from the United States and Europe, and included over 300 houses, “bachelors’ quarters,” hospital, church, school, clubhouse, various sport and recreational facilities, etc. Due to increased demand for aviation gasoline during WW2, the Lago oil refinery became the largest in the world. In 1942, it was attacked by a German submarine, but the damage was minor. The refinery closed in 1985; after several changes of proprietors and a major overhaul, it continues to operate on a small scale. The Lago Colony does not exist anymore and the site is now a residential Seroe Colorado community.
The album contains interesting photos of the Lago oil refinery – a large view taken from above and captioned “Standard Oil Co.,” and smaller views of machinery, reservoirs, the system of pipes, docks with oil tankers, the interior of the operation room, two night views, etc. (three groups of views have captions “De Fabriek,” “L.O. & T.C.,” and “De Kraak installatie”). The photos of the Lago Colony include large photos of the mess hall and the bachelors quarters, and smaller views of the bungalows and buildings, the club, cinema theatre, swimming pier, “Lido[?] country club,” etc. Ten photos show public celebrations in the Lago Colony during Christmas 1938 and New Year’s Day 1939 (people dressed in costumes, taking part in a parade, one of the floats has a sign “APM 1898-1938”). There are also several portraits of the album compiler, his colleagues and their families – swimming, posing on the beach, next to cars, in front of their bungalows, on sailing ships; three photos of “Mr. Meier’s marriage by proxy,” a portrait of a just married couple, etc. One photo is captioned on verso “From Aruba. A tropical morning in front of my room. Bachelor Quarters # 7. Room 10.” The album also houses six rare photos documenting the first arrival to Aruba of the KLM Fokker F. XVIII “Snip” on December 24, 1935. The photos are captioned “Kerstflucht Snip” (“Christmas Snip”); the plane has visible signs “Holland West Indie,” “Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij,” and “PH-AIS.” The other photos show Oranjestad (a birds’-eye view, church, mansions, thatched-roof houses), views of rural Aruba captioned “Die Knoekoe” (after Papiamente word “kunuku”), oil facilities in Maracaibo, views of Curacao, etc.
Thirteen photos taken on a return voyage to Europe on board a German steamship “Caribia” in May 1939 include an interesting scene in the ship’s restaurant during a “Bockbierfest,” a portrait of dressed-up children posing during a “Kinderfest,” and a photo of a celebration of Hitler’s birthday with the audience performing a Nazi salute to a procession of men in the SA uniform. The album closes with 38 photos taken in the Netherlands and Belgium just before the beginning of WW2 - in June-August 1939. The photos include family portraits, views and scenes in Soest, Dordrecht, Liege, Dinant, Rochefort, the Meuse River, the Caves of Han-sur-Lesse, etc. Overall, an important collection of original photos showing the Aruba oil industry in the years leading to WW2.

Item #378

Price: $3,250.00 USD