Ca. 1930s. Oblong Quarto album ca. 17,5x27,5 cm (7 x 11 ½ in). 29 black card stock leaves + 3 blank printed forms “Autographs of my friends” bound at the front. With 115 original gelatin silver photos ca. 9,5x12,5 cm (3 ¾ x 5 in) or slightly smaller. All photos with period ink captions on the mounts (one captioned on verso), about twenty also captioned in negative. Period custom made brown leather softcover album fastened with a string; a decorative linen ink-drawn view of Fort Randolph on the front cover. Album slightly rubbed on extremities, a couple of images mildly faded or with mild silvering, one photo with a crease, two images previously removed, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos.
Historically important extensive collection of well-annotated original photos of Fort Randolph and other military defence sites of the Panama Canal Zone, during the 1930s. The album’s compiler was an American military man who served in Fort Randolph at the time – possibly, one “Ward Abner Colby” whose photo is placed on the first leaf of the album.
Fort Randolph, constructed in 1913-20, was one of the three fortifications providing coastal defence for the Panama Canal’s Atlantic entrance (together with Fort Sherman and Fort de Lesseps). It was “established on Margarita and Galeta Islands (near Coco Solo) on April 9, 1920, and was named in honor of Major General Wallace F. Randolph, U.S. Army. On January 31, 1933, the Fort Randolph Army Reservation was increased to 3,691 acres, and on September 13, 1940, “the Secretary of War transferred to the Navy Department a tract of land containing approximately 1,250 acres which included a portion of Fort Randolph”. Included at Fort Randolph were coastal artillery barracks, family housing, and administrative facilities. In 1953, part of the Fort Randolph Army Reservation was transferred to the Navy to be used by the Naval Security Group Activity. By 1970, the reservation, consisting of only 233 acres, had been declared inactive” (An American Legacy in Panama: A Brief History of Defense Installations and Properties in the Former Panama Canal Zone/ U.S. Defense Department. 1995, pp. 62-63).
The album includes over thirty photos of Fort Randolph and its military installations. There are several general views of the Fort - “showing barracks” (visible sign “Fort Randolph” on one of the buildings), “giving view of two batteries & officers line,” “with post exchange on right,” “showing Reveille Gun,” a rainy scene (“when it rains at Fort Randolph, it pours”), etc. Most photos of the Fort depict various artillery batteries and guns - “Range section – anti-aircraft fire;” “Night review at Fort Randolph” (additional caption “in honor of Colonel Dusenbury, C.O.”), “14” Railway gun,” “12” mortars;” “Parade by moonlight, Fort Randolph, C.Z.” (additional caption “line of batteries preparatory to passing in review”); “A.A. [anti-aircraft] searchlight in action – Panama;” “motor transports passing in review;” “3” anti-aircraft gun;” “3” anti-aircraft gun & gun section;” “3” anti-aircraft gun at A.A. No. 5;” a column of cars bringing “searchlights and sound locators;” etc. Other photos of Fort Randolph show the interior of the “beer garden,” “company street of squad tents,” a scene with soldiers lined up for food (caption “no second invitation required”), soldiers playing “intra-battery volleyball,” the entrance sign to Fort Randolph, a scene with a soldier on “guard duty beneath the palms & the tropical moon,” several views of the nearby Galeta Island, trails and boardwalks (“Galeta Island bunkhouse, Fort Randolph Reservation,” “view from bunkhouse, Galeta Island,” “a jungle trail near Fort Randolph,” “coral formation, Galeta Island,” etc.).
Several photos of other American defence installations in the Canal Zone show “105 mm anti-aircraft guns at Btry. No. 9 – Gatun,” “view from Sosa Hill – showing Fort Amador and fortified islands in distance,” photo of a 16” gun “at Fort Coiba [Kobbe] – Pacific Sector,” and “1st Coast Artillery in the Field - 1936” (additional caption “at Albrook Field, C.Z.”). Very interesting are the photos of the U.S. naval ships and military planes in the Canal Zone, showing “Flagship of U.S. Navy – U.S.S. Pennsylvania,” “U.S.S. Pennsylvania in the Panama Canal Locks,” “Uncle Sam’s fleet tied up in Balboa harbour,” “President Roosevelt – upper deck – passing thru canal. Oct. 16, 1935,” “part of U.S. Fleet docket ad Balboa,” “the Gobs pile ashore for a few hours leave,” “Pan-America Airways Plane at France Field, C.Z.,” and “U.S. Army planes in formation.” Five photos show Japanese naval cruisers and their crew while visiting the Canal - “Japanese battle cruiser,” “Japanese cruiser at Cristobal Docks,” “on guard duty. Japanese sailor from visiting Japanese battleship,” a cutter boat with “Japanese sailors visiting canal zone,” “a Japanese naval officer.”
There are also several photos of the Panama Canal, showing the Gatun Locks (two photos, one “looking into Gatun Lake”), Gatun spillway, Gatun Lake, Culebra Cut, and “Cranes along the Panama Canal.” Over a dozen photos depict cities and sites on the Atlantic entrance to the Canal – Colon (Broadway, Washington Hotel, “float in Mardi Gras celebration,” “two of Colon’s night clubs” - “Atlantic” and “Moulin Rouge,” “Dempsey Bar”), Cristobal (old Spanish anchors, “old Cristobal which consists almost entirely of steamship offices”), Portobelo (“old fortress at Porto Bello,” “ancient graveyard at Puerto Bello”), “ruins of old Fort San Lorenzo, located at the mouth of Chagres River,” “Mount Hope, C.Z.,” “an old stone bridge” (“historic landmark dating back to days of Spanish rule”), etc. About fifteen photos depict the San Blas Islands and the adjacent Caribbean coast of Panama, named in the album “San Blas country.” The photos show the islands taken from the sea, the region’s capital “Port Venir” (El Porvenir), “Rio Diable – San Blas country” or “river of the devil,” local villages, native houses and graveyards. The photos of Panama City show the “Atlas beer garden” (additional caption – “road house, Pacific Street”), “old Panama Cathedral – one of few remaining ruins of old Panama City,” and the animals from the city zoo. Several views of Balboa show the Sosa Hill and the Panama Canal administration building. There are also portraits of the native Panamanians (“San Blas Indian woman,” “San Blas giving a tune on his reed,” “Darien Indians, Darien province”), photos of a “native Panamanian house,” “native transportation,” etc. An interesting photo has the following caption: “This cayuco travelled from Southern California to the Panama Canal. Voyage was completed in 3 yrs. by Mr. & Mrs. Lamb just for the adventure.” Overall a historically significant content-rich visual source on the history of the U.S. military defence installations of the Panama Canal Zone in the 1930s.
Price: $2,250.00 USD
Status: On Hold