Ca. 1900s. Oblong Quarto album ca. 19x25,5 cm (7 ½ x 10 in). 14 card stock leaves. With 36 mounted gelatin silver photos of various size, including six large images from ca. 15x20 cm (6x8 in); the rest of the photos are from ca. 12x16 cm (4 ¾ x 6 ½ in) to ca. 8x10,5 cm (3 ¼ x 4 in). Two photos with period pencil or ink captions on the mounts. With nine mounted period magazine or newspaper clippings, each ca. 7x9,5 cm (2 ¾ x 3 ¾ in). Original black half morocco with cloth boards, neatly rebacked in style with black morocco; original endpapers. A few photos mildly faded or with mild silvering, but overall a very good album of interesting photographs.
Historically significant album with early original photos of the properties and operations of the “Assam Oil Company” near Digboi, north-eastern Assam, known as the birthplace of the oil industry in India. Oil was first discovered in the area in the 1860s, and the first oil production began near modern-day Digboi in 1889. “Assam Oil Company” was formed in 1899 and developed oil deposits in Digboi and Makum, opening the refinery at Digboi in 1901. It became the first oil refinery in Asia and still operates today. The company was closely associated with the “Assam Railway and Trading Co.,” which connected its oil fields and processing facilities to the rest of Assam. In 1921, the properties of the “Assam Oil Company” were sold to the “Burmah Oil Company;” it now belongs to the “Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.”
The album opens with a group portrait of European associates of the company, captioned “Assam Oil Co.” One of the people on the photo captioned “Eric,” is most likely the album’s compiler. Six large photos show the company settlement in Digboi, with bungalows and residential houses of European and native workers, oil reservoirs, and a railway track. There are also interesting views of an oil derrick under construction, railway tracks and an approaching train (most likely, of the “Assam Railway and Trading Co.”), exterior and interior of a residential building, an area of cleared forest, Assam villages, native families, children, &c. Three other photos portray “Eric,” posing with his friends, in an Assam village and jungle. Nine magazine or newspaper clippings reproduce photos (with printed captions) of the construction of an oil derrick, transportation of a Brennan boiler, elephants at work, and a general view of the Digboi Refinery. One of the photos pictures one “E.B. Richards” mounted on an elephant, who could possibly be “Eric” from the original photos. Overall an interesting early original source on the history of the Digboi oil industry.
Price: $2,250.00 USD