Ca. 1934-1937. Three Oblong Folio albums (ca. 24x30,5 cm). 26, 25 and 20 stock leaves with tissue guards. With ca. 307 mounted gelatin silver photographs, including twenty-four larger ones, ca. 16,5x22 cm (6 ¼ x 8 ½ in); the other photos are or various size, from 8x12 cm (3 x 4 ¾ in), to ca. 2,5x3 cm (3/4 x 1 ¼ in). Most photos (especially the larger ones) with more or less detailed period ink captions in English on the mounts. With a loosely inserted printed menu ca. 19x25 cm (7 ½ x 9 ¾ in); ca. twenty period pencil signatures on the outer side. Three period paper cover albums fastened with strings and secured with metal pins; all three with period typewritten titles on the paper labels attached to the front boards. A couple of images very mildly faded, album covers with several minor tears or chipping on extremities, one small photo captioned “self” was previously removed from the first album, but overall a very good collection of strong, interesting photographs.
Historically significant extensive collection of original photographs illustrating the events of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War (October 1935 – February 1937). The collection was expertly assembled and annotated by Adrian Trapman, British vice-consul in Addis Ababa in 1934 – June 1936, who received an Empire Gallantry Medal for the rescue of foreign nationals during the capture of the Ethiopian capital by the Italian troops in May 1936 (London Gazette, 1 February 1937; Victoria Daily Times (British Columbia, Canada), 1 February 1937, p. 2). Shortly before the beginning of the war, in August 1935, Trapman went to Djibouti (then in French Somaliland) and brought a detachment of Sikh soldiers to reinforce the British legation guard. They became the first foreign troops to arrive in Ethiopia in expectation of war (see more: British Troops Arrive in Ethiopia to Guard Legation at Addis Ababa// Times Union, Brooklyn, New York, 30 August 1935, p. 1). In 1937 Trapman was appointed British vice-consul in Baghdad but died in a car accident near Athens in September that year, on the way to the place of his appointment.
The present collection is a unique visual documentation of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, created by an eye-witness who had direct access to the Ethiopian ruling class. The first album, titled “Ethiopia, 1934-1935. Addis Ababa. Jimma. Legation Guard. Events preceding the outbreak of Italo-Ethiopian War. Masqal, 1935,” contains over 240 photos, illustrating Trapman’s service in Jimma and Addis Ababa shortly before the war. The album opens with over forty photos of people and villages of the Jimma Province, dated “Oct.-Nov. 1934.” Among them are the portraits of the local chiefs and elders, women and children, four photos of a trial of “Hassan, a brigand (subsequently hanged), Hermata, Oct. 1934,” etc. A group of photos titled “Addis Ababa, 1934-5” shows the British consulate and garden, Trapman’s house, “self – Legation guards on Race day, at the Club,” Trapman’s associates and friends (“W. Cramp,” “Abbott,” “Taylor”), several scenes from the Meskel festivity in 1934, etc. Over thirty photos illustrate Trapman’s trip to fetch “the Legation guards from Jubuti, Sept. 1935” (scenes in the train car, portraits of Trapman and his companions, views of the train, railway stations, Sikh soldiers entering the train, etc.). The pre-war photos also include several scenes from the Meskel festivity in 1935, featuring Emperor Haile Selassie I, his second son Prince Makonnen, Duke of Harar; German ambassador in Ethiopia Dr. Johann Kirchholtes, Italian ambassador Count Luigi Vinci, “Ligaba Tassau, Court Chamberlain,” “Abyssinian priests,” and others. Other interesting photos show the new “Ghibbi” palace (Great Ghebbi), “Addis Ababa from Ghibbi,” “the Imperial guard,” “8 days before bombing of Adowa,” “October 1935, recruits,” etc. Several photos dated “Xmas, 1936” show the refugee camp in the British “legation compound,” “air raid precautions – bunk-holes,” “camouflage & gas masks;” the smaller photos show Ethiopian countryside and people.
The second album, titled “The Italian Advance in Northern Ethiopia, March 1936. Photographs taken from Italian planes. Addis Ababa, May 1936,” contains twenty-four large excellent photos with mostly aerial views of the military actions around Amba Aradam. The photos show the use of “incendiary bombs,” “bombing of a moving column of Abyssinian regulars,” “bombing enemy villages to the east of Amba Aradam,” “Taga-Taga village on the eastern slope of Amba Aradam, under air bombardment,” “Italian troops occupying Buie,” “Italian troops on the eastern slopes of Amba Aradam,” “ground signal warning planes no to drop bombs,” “re-victualling & refurnishing an encampment with ammunition by parachute,” “huts around Coptic church fly white flags to escape bombardment,” “a direct hit. Two trucks loaded with ammunition for Ras Mulugheta spotted & destroyed by Italian planes <…>,” “Italian forward column asks for victuals (“Viveri”) by ground signal,” “Flying field at Enda Jesus (Makalle) showing part of the “Disperata” bombing squadron & pursuit planes <…>,” “Battle of the “Priest’s Hat” from south,” etc. Several photos taken on the ground show the Italian military airfield at Makalle (Mekelle), soldiers sorting supplies for the Italian troops, and “planes about to take off.”
The third album contains forty original snapshot photos, showing the “Burning and looting of Addis Ababa after the flight of the Emperor, May 2nd – May 5th, 1936.” It was during this time that Trapman and other officers of the British legation rescued many foreign nationals, including the staff of the US embassy and their families. Some of the captions to the photos: “4/5/36. <…> The defences;” “Italian soldiery;” “Top-hat looter from Fernandez & Sons, sub-machine gun from the palace Arsenal <…>;” “John Melly’s car. The glass was broken on 2/5/36 when a looter thrust his rifle through it when Capt. Taylor was using the car to bring the refugees. John Melly died on 5/6 of a bullet wound through the lung sustained when bringing the wounded;” “Early phases, 2/5/36. Main street of the town before the burning began;” “remains of the Post Office, 3/5/36;” “Greek café on the main square burning well, morning 3/5/36;” “looting parties carrying off their loot. The figure marked * is one of the Municipal police & is still in uniform!”; “the British legation paddock, where over 1600 persons of 33 nationalities found refuge from 2/5/36 – 5/5/36;” bodies of looters “Outside Sheikh’s Bazara house on the market;” “A murdered Armenian in the centre of the town;” “Slightly “posed” looting party, 3rd from right is one of the Emperor’s chauffeurs…;” “The end of Ghantakis. This was the first shop to be looted on 2/5/36. Champagne was being sold by the looters at $1 a case,” etc. The last photo is a portrait of four members of the British legation who took part in the rescue operation (including Trapman). The caption reads: “May 2-5, 1936. The “Plug-ole Government” (i.e. rescue squad with pick-up). [..?], Redress Taylor, A.R.T., Patrick Roberts.”
The collection is supplemented with a printed menu of a dinner organized in London’s Lansdowne Club in April 1937 for the members of the British Legation and other foreign witnesses of the political crisis and war in Ethiopia. The menu is signed by Trapman, Redress Taylor, Patrick Roberts, Cornelius van Hemert Engert (US diplomat who served in Ethiopia in 1935-1937), and others.
Overall a unique content-rich visual source on the history of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.
Price: $7,500.00 USD