Ca. 1900. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 18x26 cm). 12 double stock leaves. With 28 mounted gelatin silver photographs, including 25 larger ones, from ca. 14,5x20,5 cm (5 ¾ x 8 in) to ca. 9,5x13 cm (3 ¾ x 5 ¼ in), and three smaller ones, from ca. 5,5x8 cm (2 ¼ x 3 in) to ca. 4x5 cm (1 ½ x 2 in). Over twenty photos with period pencil or ink captions on the mounts (pencil captions partly faded, but mostly readable). Five photos with period ink stamps on verso “Henri Cunge, Photographie populaire, Fort-de-France (Martinique);” one photo with a visible monogram “H.[enry] C.[unge]” in negative. Period style maroon half morocco with cloth boards. A couple of images mildly faded or with mild silvering, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos.
Historically interesting collection of large early photographs of Martinique (mostly attributed to a noted local studio of Henry Cunge), collected by a French officer who served in the military Camp Balata near Fort-de-France in the 1900s. Henry Cunge was active in ca. 1900s, and is known for his portraits and series of views of Fort-de-France and Saint-Pierre (after the eruption of Mount Pelee in 1902); many of his photos were published as postcards. The photos in this album depict the early years of Fort-de-France as the economic and administrative centre of Martinique, which happened after Saint-Pierre’s destruction by Mount Pelee.
The album includes five photos with Cunge’s studio ink stamps on verso: [A view of Rivière Madame at Fort-de-France], “Fort-de-France, Fontaine Gueydon,” “Fort-de-France, L’Imperatrice Josephine, place de la Savane” (the statue was beheaded in 1991 and torn down in 2020 during the BLM protests), a portrait of Béhanzin, ex-king of Dahomey in exile, and a general view of Fort-de-France (“Fort-de-France, vue générale”). Another view of Rivière Madame at Fort-de-France has Cunge’s initials (“H.C.”) in negative. The other photos show “Baines Didier” and four other views of Fort-de-France (general view, a small river ferry, public library and “Grand Hotel Europe”). There are also portraits of a local girl with banana bunches and two “Martiniquaises.” Two little photos show a review at the St.-Cyr Military Academy (Guer, France), which the album’s compiler attended.
The “military-themed” photos include views of Camp Balata (now abandoned) and portraits of French officers with most of their names carefully captioned on the mounts. The camp views show the main entrance with a large sign “Infanterie de Marine, Camp Balata;” the gardens (“Martinique, Camp Balata, vue generale, jardin”); the camp with the Carbet Mountains in the background (“Martinique, Camp Balata, Le Pitons du Carbet, 1200 m”); two views of the officers’ bungalow with different men posing in front (one photo is captioned “Camp Balata, Martinique, Case de officiers”), and a scene with sellers of bananas next to the camp (“Camp Balata, Marchands de bananes, petit soeur”). There are also individual and group portraits of French officers, showing “Camp Balata. Case aux trigonocephales. Cne. Desbroches des <…?>,” “Café des Lieutenants. Dr. Beraud, Lt. Lionard, Lt. D., Diana;” “Martinique, 1900, au Camp Balata,” two officers are their wives, and four officers next to a waterfall. Overall an attractive collection of large well-executed views of Fort-de-France and environs in the early 20th century.
Price: $2,250.00 USD