[Collection of Four Albums with 254 Original Gelatin Silver Photos of German East Africa (Tanzania and Rwanda), Taken by German Post Inspector Leopold Oehler While in Service in Dar es Salaam; With Oehler’s Large Photograph Portrait, Travel Passport, Two Postal Receipts from Istanbul, a Leaf of Pencil Notes with the Printed Letterhead of “Kaiserlich Deutsches Postamt, Dar-es-Salaam,” and a Notebook with Over 100 pages of Carbon Copies of Oehler’s Letters and Diary Notes Written During his Time in German East Africa].
Ca. 1907-1910. Four Oblong Folio albums (ca. 23x32,5 cm). Each with eight card stock leaves. In all 254 gelatin silver photographs mounted in windows, each ca. 8x10,5 cm (3 x 4 ¼ in) or slightly smaller. Over seventy photos captioned in pencil on verso; many also dated 1908-1910. One album with a period paper leaf with the typewritten list of captions to all photos in that album. Four period grey card albums fastened with ribbons. With a notebook ca. 29x22,5 cm (11 ¼ x 8 ¾ in); 59 leaves are filled in manuscript on rectos (35 leaves of carbon copies and 24 leaves of originals, supplemented with carbon copies). The front cover with a paper label and a manuscript pencil title “Oehler, 19.1.10.” With Oehler’s photograph portrait ca. 14x10 cm (5 ½ x 4 ¾ in), mounted on the period card ca. 18,5x24,5 cm (7 ¼ x 9 ¾ in). With Oehler’s travel passport ca. 28x34 cm (11 x 13 ½ in), issued in Dar es Salaam in September 1910; recto with typewritten text, signatures and stamps, verso with several border officers’ notes and stamps. With a leaf of pencil notes ca. 33x42 cm (13 x 16 ½ in), with a printed letterhead of “Kaiserlich Deutsches Postamt, Dar-es-Salaam.” With two postal receipts from Istanbul dated November 1910; each ca. 12x15 cm (4 ¾ x 6 in). The albums with a few images mildly faded, one of the albums with two photos previously removed, the notebook slightly rubbed on extremities, a couple of leaves detached from the stub and loosely inserted, one of the photos with a missing right lower corner, but overall a very good extensive collection of strong interesting photographs.
Historically significant extensive collection of early original photos of Dar es Salaam and German East Africa in the late 1900s, supplemented with a voluminous journal, describing some of the events. The compiler, Leopold Oehler, served as a post inspector in Dar es Salaam in 1907-1910. During his service, he also took an official trip to modern-day Rwanda, where he met with King Yuhi Musinga (1883-1944).
The majority of photos in the three albums show Dar es Salaam and environs. Among them are excellent general views of the city waterfront and skyline, featuring St. Joseph’s Metropolitan Cathedral and Azania Front Lutheran Church (with several close-up views, evidently taken from the higher floors of the post office). A series of photos shows Dar es Salaam harbour with German naval and commercial ships, including “Kronprinz,” “Reichstag,” “Gertrud Woermann,” “Herzog,” “Saturnus,” as well as fishing and postal boats, etc. Lively street views show Dar es Salaam downtown with the signs of “Restaurant & Cafe W. Kontzl,” “Deutsch Ostafrikanische Rundschau” newspaper, the native quarter, German cemetery (the inscription on the cross on one of the photos reads “Ihrem lieben Son und Bruder zum Gedachtnitz. Die trauer oden Eltern und Gelchwister. Ihrem Kollegen in treuen Erinnerung. Die Polizeibeamten in Deutsche Ost Afrika”), etc. Six photos depict the inauguration ceremony of the monument to a controversial governor of German East Africa, Hermann von Wissmann (1853-1905), in Dar es Salaam on April 3, 1909. One photo focuses on the design of street lamps in Dar es Salaam. There are also photos of the new bridge over the Mtoni River (“In Mtonibrücke. Marz 09”), “Magogoni,” “Kilossa,” “Mukondokwa” (Mkondoa River), a wooden bridge over the Mohoro River, a lighthouse; two photos captioned “Boa-Magi, 27.12.08,” several views of Zanzibar dated May 1909, etc.
About ten photos show the interior of a post office (apparently, in Dar es Salaam) with German and native workers posing at their work desks, with a telephone or a telegraph machine. There are also four scenes with native postal workers carrying sacks with post and loading them to a boat to take them to a steamer. Two photos portray native postmen posing with a bicycle; one photo is captioned “Dalati u. Mwakwimbi.” The other photos include lively portraits of local people (families, schoolboys, girls, peasants, policemen, an East Indian family), and a number of portraits of Oehler and his German colleagues and friends on trips and outings on the Tanzanian coast and in the countryside (“Kröber, Bargner, Denninger, Kendoa Insel,” and others).
The fourth album, supplemented with typewritten captions to all sixty-four photos, depicts Oehler’s official travel across German East Africa to modern-day Rwanda, apparently to inspect the colony’s post system. The photos show several post offices across the colony (Tabora, Kondoa Irangi, Fort Mpapua, Bukoba, Muansa, and others), Morogoro district office, German residences in Kigali and Kissenji/ Gesenyi, Mvuha river in Uluguru, Kagera River, “Lugatschi See in Kissaka” (Gisaka), a baobab in Ugogo, Njawarongo/Nyabarongo River, several peaks of the Virunga Mountains (Sabyinyo, Karisimbi, Mikeno, Bisoke), Lake Kivu and its islands, Catholic mission school in the then capital Nyanza, and several excellent portraits of the native people (warriors, lion dancers, men in dugout canoe, women and children), etc. Two photos portray the Rwandan King Yuhi Musinga (1883-1944) with his entourage; German imperial flags are present on both photos; one photo also features a German colonial officer. One photo is a general view of the royal residence in Nyanza. There is also an interesting scene with native men sending signals with a heliograph. Another photo portrays “Sultan Kahigi in Kanasi,” dressed in a German military uniform.
The journal with carbon copies of Oehler’s letters and notes, written in German cursive, covers his service in German East Africa and ends on his return trip to Germany in 1910. His travel passport, signed by the colonial governor Albrecht von Rechenberg (1861-1935), was issued in Dar es Salaam on September 10, 1910 for the return trip via Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, Greece, and Austro-Hungary.
Overall a historically important extensive collection of original photos documenting the history of the German administration and postal service in modern-day Tanzania and Rwanda in the early 1900s.
Price: $6,500.00 USD