Ca. 1899-1900. Oblong Folio album (ca. 24x30,5 cm). 29 card stock leaves. With 150 mounted albumen photographs, including thirty-two large ones, from ca. 18,5x27 cm (7 ¼ x 10 ½ in) to ca. 15x20 cm (6 x 7 ¾ in); the other photos are from ca. 11x15 cm (4 ¼ x 5 ¾ in) to ca. 3,5x5 cm (1 ¼ x 2 in). All but six photos with period ink captions in English on the mounts; sixteen studio photos are captioned and/or signed in negative. Period red half morocco album with red pebbled cloth boards; gilt-tooled borders on the spine and boards; moire endpapers. Album mildly rubbed at extremities, a few images mildly faded, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos.
Historically significant unique collection of original snapshot and studio photos, illustrating the charity trip of Lady Rahmeh Chamberlain to Cape Town, Mafeking and Shashi River (modern-day Botswana) during the Second Boer War. Through her husband, Richard Chamberlain (1840-1899, Mayor of Birmingham in 1879-80), Rahmeh Chamberlain was a sister-in-law of Joseph Chamberlain MP (1836-1914), then the Secretary of State for the Colonies (in office: 1895-1903). Her nephew Neville Chamberlain (1859-1940) would later serve as a British Prime Minister (in office: 1937-1940). Accompanied by her step-daughter Emilie Agnes Chamberlain, Lady Rahmeh spent about nine months (November 1900 – August 1901) in the war-time Cape Colony, mostly administering donations, writing letters and organizing charity events for the wounded officers and soldiers stationed in the No. 1 Wynberg military hospital. The ladies also visited British military hospitals in Mafeking, Woodstock and Roodebosch. During her assistance in No. 1 Wynberg Hospital, Lady Chamberlain had a conflict with the medical staff. She was at some point “politely shown to the door, being informed that No visitors were allowed” (War Hospital Scandals. Mrs. R. Chamberlain’s Evidence. Doctors Charged with Drunkenness. Reign of Dirt and Disorder// Reynold’s Newspaper. London, 11 November 1900, p. 5). Upon her return to England, Lady Chamberlain made an official statement accusing the Army Medical Service of mismanagement and anti-sanitary conditions, lack and low qualification of staff in hospitals (The Military Hospitals. Statement by Mrs. Richard Chamberlain// The Standard. London, 28 August 1900, p. 2). In November 1900, Mrs. Chamberlain testified to the members of the Royal Commission on South African Hospitals, appointed by the Parliament (War Hospital Scandals. Mrs. R. Chamberlain’s Evidence. // Reynold’s Newspaper. London, 11 November 1900, p. 5). Her statements and testimony were widely published by the British newspapers (The Hospitals Commission. Mrs. Richard Chamberlain’s Evidence// The Pall Mall Gazette. London, 5 November 1900, p. 7; The Hospitals Commission. Mrs. Richard Chamberlain’s Statements. Further Evidence// The Yorkshire Herald and the York Herald. 30 Aug. 1900, p. 5).
Most photos in the album relate to Mrs. Chamberlain’s service and life in Cape Town. Four large photos by a local photographer Alf F. Hosking show No 1. General Hospital at Wynberg (a general view, the interior of a room for recovering patients, “Commandant Pretorius & other Boer prisoners in hospital,” and “unloading wounded from ambulance”). Two large photos of X-ray pictures show the “damage done to forearm by shell splinter” and a “martini bullet in leg, X-rayed at No. 2 Hospital, Wynberg.” A middle-sized sound photo shows Emilie Chamberlain and other workers inside a working hut where donations were sorted and prepared for distribution. Three photos portray Mrs. and Miss Chamberlain posing with soldiers next to a wooden box with the sign “Mrs. R. Chamberlain, C/o General, Sir. F. Walker, No. 1 Hospital, Wynberg, Cape Town, S.A.” There are also two photos of “waggons, leaving hut with hospital comforts for Bloemfontein” (one photo features Emilie Chamberlain, the box next to her has a sign “Mrs. R. Chamberlain, Cape Town”). Several photos of the military camp in nearby Maitland show “Strathcona’s Horse Lines,” “the Asylum,” “10th dov. Amm. Col. leaving Maitland Camp,” “Imperial Yeomanry Camp from Maitland Camp;” a larger photo portrays the staff of the “Army Service Corps Depot, Maitland Camp.” Numerous photos show the ladies and their companions, acquaintances and colleagues -“R.T.C., E.A.C. & American, Spanish, German and Italian military attaches at Groot Constantia,” “O.C.A. S.C. Maitland Camp,” “The Boer’s Friend,” “The Handy Man,” “De Arcy,” “the Slave Driver,” “The Book Binder;” a series of nine photos from “The Tour, June 10th, 1900” have the names of the ladies and their companions written in initials: “J.H.,” “J.B.L.,” “Em.[ily],” “R.T.C.,” etc.
Six photos “taken by Boers” show “Colonel Albrecht commanding the State artillery, and armed orderly with Red Cross badge;” “Boer commando showing armed natives;” bodies of British soldiers at Spion Kop “on the morning of British retreat;” “Danish officer, believed to have been killed at Magersfountein;” a group of Boers next to a Long Tom gun, and “Artillery headquarters at Bloemfontein <…> This photograph was suppressed by the Boer leaders; two German artillery officers can be seen.” There is also a large studio group portrait of Colonel Ivor Herbert (British Staff officer) and foreign military attaches with the British Forces.
Over thirty smaller snapshot photos taken during the Chamberlain ladies’ trip to Mafeking include several views of Mafeking railway station and an armoured train, “Dixon’s Hotel,” “market square,” portraits of “staff officer of transport,” “Colonel Cavaye,” Emilie posing next to a “machine gun at Cannon Kopje,” “Boer prisoners entraining – Mafeking,” “Carrington’s Force returning to Mafeking,” etc. Four photos show “Mafeking after the Tornado” – destroyed or damaged “railway workshops,” “canteen of 4th Bedfords,” “refugee huts,” and “railway buildings.” Seven photos, titled “native scenes - Mafeking,” include a controversial image of a severed head of a “Boer victim” and a photo captioned “bodies of native women & girls murdered by the Boers.” There are also two photos of the Lang’s Nek railway tunnel partly exploded by the Boers, and eleven snapshot photos from a side trip to the Tati and Shashi Rivers (“bless our home”, “Joss, the administrator,” “the residency,” “on the banks of the Shashi,” “on the trek,” etc.). Seventeen smaller photos at the rear show the scenes onboard the RMS “Norman” during the ladies’ return trip to England in summer 1900.
The album also contains eighteen large studio views of Cape Town and environs, with seven photos copyrighted by the company of a noted Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson (1823-1893; the business was continued by his son until 1908). The photos include general views of Cape Town, Table Mountain and Table Bay, closer views of the Hout Bay, Simon’s Town, Camps Bay, Kalk Bay & St. James, the “Vineyard Hotel,” “Government House,” “Parliament House,” “Newlands House,” “Government Wine Farm” and “Cellars” in Groot Constantia, the entrance to the Castle of Good Hope, a vineyard paddock in Newlands, etc. There are also three “G.W.W. & Co’s” views of Kimberley and its diamond mines (“Kimberley. S.A. from rock shaft,” “The floors, De Beers Diamond Mines,” and “Open workings, Kimberley Diamond mines”). Overall, a unique visual account of the Second Boer War through the eyes of an upper-class British lady actively engaged in charity activities in the British military hospitals.
The album derives from the estate of descendants of Emilie Agnes Chamberlain. She had no children, and the album was passed on to her niece Gertrude Roma Bowen (1900-1995).
Price: $4,500.00 USD