[Historically Significant Photo Album with 100 Original Gelatin Silver Mounted Photos, One Real Photo Postcard, and One Printed Postcard of the Trans-Iranian Railway, Showing Over 40 Railway Stations (Bender Shah, Bender Shahpoor, Shahi, Vresk, Tehran, Gadouk, Benevar, Endimeshk, Arak, Neka, etc.), Bridges (Tajen, Doab, Karaj, Abdiz, Karoun, Gorgor, Ahwaz, etc.), Tunnels, Engine Houses, Steam Engines, Workers’ Houses, etc.; With an Offset from “The Railway Gazzette,” Dated 2 and 16, 1945, Summarizing the British Work on the Construction of the Iranian Railways]
Album: Ca. 1940s. Oblong Folio album (ca. 23x39 cm). 25 card stock leaves with tissue guards. With 100 original gelatin silver photos each ca. 8,5x11,5 cm, (3 ¼ x 4 ¾ in). With two period postcards mounted on verso of the front cover (a real photo postcard and a printed postcard, each ca. 8,5x13,5 cm or 3 ½ x 5 ½ in). All photos with period manuscript white ink captions in English. Period manuscript white ink presentation inscription on verso of the front cover: “Presented with Compliments by The Iranian State Railways to Lt. Col. G. E. Wheeler.” Period hardcover album with a sheep spine, fastened with a string; both covers with painted Persian miniatures and designs. Binding rubbed on extremities, corners slightly bumped, the right lower corner of the front board with a crack, the front leaf without a tissue guard, but overall a very good album with bright sound and important photos.
With: British Work on Persian Railways. The achievements and difficulties of the R. Es. during the 15 months in which they laid the foundation for effective aid to Russia. An offprint from “The Railway Gazette” (Feb. 2 and 16, 1945). Ca. 29x21,5 cm (11 ¼ x 8 ½ in). 9 pp. Original publisher’s wrappers.
Historically significant extensive collection of early original photos of the newly constructed Trans-Iranian Railway (the predecessor of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways) from ca. 1940s. The album contains 100 original gelatin silver photos of the entire route of the railway from Bandar Torkaman to Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni. Ca. 30 photos depict stations (Bender Shah, Behshahr, Neka, Tehran, Sari, Gadouk, Shahi, Shirgah, Zirab, etc.), bridges (Tajen, Vresk or “Victory,” Doab), repairing workshops, a tunnel, and general views of the Northern Division, stretching from the port of Bender Shah on the Caspian Sea to Tehran. During the Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran, the line was controlled by the USSR from 1941 to 1942. Most of the photos (over 60) show the Southern Division (between Tehran and the port of Bender Shahpoor on the Persian Gulf), operated by the British forces and Empire Royal Engineers (RE) in the early-1940s. The photographs depict ca. 25 stations: Tehran (both exterior and interior: general view, hall of the station building, one of the platforms, Tehran engine house, etc.), Karaj (general view of the station and the Karaj bridge), Arak (general view, engine house, and engines), Bisheh (general view and hospital), Dokouhe (general view and a nearby bridge), Endimeshk (general view, a nearby bridge, oil installations, engine house), Ahwaz (general view, engine house, Ahwaz road bridge), Mazoo, Balarood, Shahbazan, etc. Some of the photos depict oil reservoirs, tunnels, a workers’ house, views from the South Line, etc. At least 7 photos show stations (Garmsar, Semnan, Damghan, Shahroud), an engine house, and an employees’ house on the eastern line of the railway (from Tehran to Shahroud). Names of stations and train engines are visible in several photos. The album also contains two period postcards, showing the British Consulate in Bushire (Bushehr) and an example of Iranian architecture.
The album was presented to the noted British military man and diplomat Geoffrey Edleston Wheeler CIE when an associate of the British Embassy in Tehran (1946-1950). Geoffrey was commissioned into the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment in 1915 as a second lieutenant, reaching the rank of captain before the end of WWI. From 1919 to 1925, he was attached to General Staff as an intelligence officer covering India, Palestine, and Malta. In 1926, Wheeler served in Mashhad, Iran as the British Military Attaché and he was stationed in Iraq from 1928 to 1931. Wheeler spent the next decade and a half in India where he severed in the External Affairs Department, the Ministry of Information and General Staff Army Headquarters. In 1946, Wheeler was stationed at the British embassy in Teheran, Iran (1946–1953), where he served as both the Press and Oriental Councillor until he returned to London in 1950. He retired from the Indian Army in 1949 as a Lieutenant-Colonel.
The album is supplemented with a rare offprint from the Railway Gazette summarizing the British work on the construction of the Iranian Railways in 1941-1942. Overall, an interesting extensive collection of early original photos of the main railway system in Iran.
The construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway was initiated in 1927 by the Iranian monarch and the first shah of the House of Pahlavi Reza Shah (1878-1944). Completed in 1938 and built exclusively with national funds, the 1,394-kilometre-long IRS connected the Caspian Sea in the northeast with the Persian Gulf in the southwest. After the Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran (1941-1942), the Allies took over the Trans-Iranian Railway: British and Empire Royal Engineers (RE) operated the Southern Division between Tehran and the port of Bandar Shahpur, and the Soviet Army operated the Northern Division between Tehran and the port of Bandar Shah. With joint efforts, the foreign powers imported new locomotives and wagons, notably increasing the freight capacity of the ISR. Following the end of WWII, the British restored the line to Iranian State Railways, and in 1961, the railway was extended from Bandar Shah to Gorgan. In 2021, the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways was registered as the 25th tangible cultural heritage of Iran on the UNESCO World List.
Price: $6,500.00 USD