Early Photos of the US-Administrated Construction of the Panama Canal.

[Album with 224 Original Gelatin Silver Photos with many Taken and Collected During Stype's Work at the Panama Canal in 1905-1906, Documenting the Digging of the Culebra Cut and Canal Zone Society Life, as Well as Stype’s Later Life in Louisiana, California and Oregon].

Ca. 1905-1910s. Oblong Folio album (ca. 28x37,5 cm). 50 card stock leaves. With 224 gelatin silver photographs, including three large ones, ca. 19,5x24,5 cm (7 ¾ x 9 ¾ in), and twenty-one studio photos ca. 11,5x16,5 cm (4 ½ x 6 ¼ in); the other photos are from ca. 12,5x17,5 cm (5x7 in) to ca. 6x8,5 cm (2 ¼ x 3 ¼ in). Over ninety photos (majority related to Panama Canal) with period white ink captions on the mounts. All studio photos captioned and numbered in negative. With two cyanotype custom-printed invitations from Panama Canal residents, dated 1905, ca. 12,5x20 cm (5 x 7 ¾ in) and 8x14,5 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ¾ in). Period black full sheep album. A few images mildly faded, one photo with a missing lower corner, two family photos apparently previously removed from the album, binding rubbed on extremities, spine with minor tears at foot, but overall a very good album of interesting strong photos.

Historically important photograph album, illustrating the first years of the US-administrated construction of the Panama Canal. The album’s compiler was Charles Maurice Stype, a high-ranking American clerk employed during the excavation of Culebra/Gaillard Cut in 1905-1906. Stype “spent a year at the canal over seven years ago when the fatal maladies were killing off men by the hundreds. <…> Accompanied by his wife, [Stype] went down to the isthmus when the American government first took hold of the work. He held the position of chief clerk to the superintendent of transportation. Two men working under him, fell victims to yellow fever and five in his department met a like fate, he states. The Panama railroad ran a special hospital train each day from the scene of operations to the Ancon hospital, states Mr. Stype, so rapidly did the yellow fever and malaria mosquitoes get in their deadly work. <…> Mr. Stype’s specific work course consisted in the checking up of the amount of excavation done on the Culebra cut. About 25 per cent of this cut had been made by the French before they abandoned the project. <…> When Mr. Stype commenced his work there, Wallace and Stevens were the engineers in charge and he attributes their resignation to being unaccustomed to governmental red tape. <…> Mr. and Mrs. Stype returned to Louisiana after a year on the isthmus. “Life was enjoyable there and good money was to be made but it is a well known fact that after a residence of a few years in the tropics, a man is unfit to return to the United States to continue life. It has been the history of Americans who have gone down into central and southern America to make a stake that after they had made their stake and returned home they found themselves unable to fit into the old life and eventually drifted back. When I found the tropics taking a hold on me, I decided to return. Some of the men who went down with me have stayed through and will probably remain there”” (Col. Gorgas’ Work in Canal Zone is Highly Praised y Local Man// East Oregonian (Pendleton, Oregon), 11 October 1913, pp. 1, 5).
The album has sixty-seven “Panama Canal” photos, including twenty-one studio views and forty-six original snapshots. The studio photos (all captioned in negative) show the excavation of the Culebra Cut (several views of the site with the machinery, auxiliary rail tracks, “north end,” “south end,” etc.), American quarters at Bas Obispo, Empire, and Cristobal, “Panama R.R. between Empire and Bas Obispo,” Chagres River and Bridge, “Old church at San Cruces,” “Hospital at Ancon,” views of Panama City, and Cristobal, etc. The original photos include numerous portraits of the Stypes, their friends and colleagues, posing at different construction sites and near various landmarks of the Canal Zone, i.e. “motor party on Culebra Hotel porch,” “Mrs. Thorne, Waltman and Stype on Chagres Bridge,” the same ladies posing in front of the “steam shovel” and “cyclone dill” at Bas Obispo, “a Sunday crowd,” “in Cathedral park” (the building in the background has a sign “Loteria de Panama”), “In Culebra Hotel office,” “at edge of Culebra Cut,” “Waltman’s porch,” “in Bas Obispo cut,” “bottom of Culebra cut,” “opposite Gold Hill,” “Molley on dump,” “on old French track,” etc. Two large group portraits depict the “Roof Garden party at Div’n Engr’s” and “the Miracle wedding at Empire.” There are also two views “from porch of Stype quarters” and of the “front of Stype quarters,” and several photos taken during the Stypes’ voyage back from Colon to the United States on board the steamship “Finance.” The album also contains two interesting cyanotype-printed pieces of the Canal Zone ephemera, inviting the Stypes to the “House Warming, W.E. Dauchy, August 15 ‘05” and to the “Initial Dance” of “El Club Americano de Emperador,” which took place on October 21, 1905, “at the Government Mess Hall, Empire.” Overall a rare important visual source on the first years of the United States’ construction of the Panama Canal and the excavation of the Culebra Cut.
The second part of the album with ca. 157 photos (some printed as real photo postcards) illustrates Stype’s later life in Louisiana, California and Oregon throughout the 1900s and 1910s. The images include portraits of the couple, their family and friends, views of “Calcasieu River” (La), “Commissary Car,” a group riding a “Lake Charles’ tram” (La), “Irrigating ditch, California,” “Sierra foothills,” “Fowler Switch Ditch,” “California Ranch House,” “Break in Irrigation ditch,” “Kings River Calif.,” “Yosemite Valley,” “Home views, Selina, Calif.,” “Beach Santa Monica,” “Fresno, California home,” “California Pepper Tree,” “Los Angeles County Calif.,” “Paradise Inn, Rainier National Park,” etc. The large photo at the rear is a group portrait taken during the “Fleet visit to Astoria, sent 6-11-1919. Taken Sept. 9.” The period newspaper clipping mounted on the opposite leaf explains that it was a visit of American sailors from the Pacific Fleet to Astoria in September 1919, where several charity meals were organized for them. “Mrs. C.M. Stype” was mentioned as the head of the “committee of ladies” responsible for planning the meals menu.

Item #428

Price: $3,250.00 USD