Ca. 1912. Nineteen loose gelatin silver photos, including five larger photos from ca. 24x30 cm (9 ½ x 12 cm) to ca. 16,5x18 cm (6 ½ x 7 in); the rest of the photos are from ca. 12,5x17,5 cm (5 x 6 ¾ in) to ca. 5x5,7 cm (2x3 in). Eleven photos with later pencil captions on verso, mostly reading “W. Patten, 1904, New Guinea expedition.” Two photos are the larger prints of small photos; two medium-sized photos are identical. A couple of photos with small creases, two photos with minor loss on one or two corners, but overall a very good collection of strong interesting photos.
Historically significant collection of early photos of Papuan people and their villages, taken during Professor William Patten’s zoological expedition to New Britain (modern-day Papua New Guinea) in 1912. Patten, who was a professor of biology and zoology at Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), travelled around the world in search of paleontological specimens and “collected an amazing array of fossils from New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Labrador, Costa Rica, Cuba, New Guinea, Australia, Java, Japan, the Baltic region and Spitzbergen” (Goldthwait, J.W. William Patten (1861-1932)// Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 70, No. 10 (Mar. 1936), p. 567). In spring 1912, Patten left Sydney (New South Wales) for Blanche Bay, New Britain, where he hoped to find “some eggs of the nautilus,” “the embryonic material of the arachnida,” and specimens of the “baramunda, or lung fish,” in order to prove his view of the evolution theory (Eggs of the Nautilus. A Scientist’s Quest// The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February 1912, p. 17). During his trip, he also visited Goaribari Island in the Gulf of Papua. Evidently, Patten not only collected fossils and zoological specimens but was also interested in the ethnography of Papuan people. Either he or his expedition members took a series of their portraits. Patten also collected several objects of traditional Papuan craftmanship, which he or his heirs presented to the Hood Museum of Art in Dartmouth College. At least three of them – a feather headdress (https://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/objects/14.13.4269), a braided beaded band (https://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/objects/171.29.25254), and a green stone axe (https://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/objects/34.36.5993) – have the curator’s note that they were collected by Professor Patten on the Goaribari Island on March 17-23, 1912. The description of Patten’s papers on the Dartmouth Library and Archives mentions “Records from New Guinea expedition (1911-1912)” (https://archives-manuscripts.dartmouth.edu/repositories/2/archival_objects/20089).
Our photo collection includes lively village scenes and group portraits of Papuan people – girls, children, families, elders, armed guards, people approaching a ship in canoes, etc. Several images show the details of people’s dresses, hairdos and decorations, and traditional houses on stilts. One of the photos, evidently taken for a publication, shows Patten posing in his office with a hammer, uncovering fossils. Overall a historically interesting early visual source on the history of traditional Papuan culture.
Price: $2,500.00 USD