Ca. 1920s. Over 140 loose gelatin silver prints of various size, including over eighty large photos ca. 11,5x16 cm (4 ½ x 6 ¼ in) or slightly smaller; and over thirty smaller images, ca. 9x14 cm (3 ½ x 5 ½ in); the rest are ca. 6,5x11 cm (2 ½ x 4 ¼ in) or slightly smaller. Most photos with pencil or ink captions in English or Swedish on versos. Several corners of photos mildly creased, but overall very good strong photos. With 31 letters, dated 1920-1948, small and large Octavos, in all over eighty pages of legible text in English. Black and blue ink on various wove paper; with three stamped envelopes. With over sixty items of various ephemera (visas, travel insurance, telegrams, recommendation letters to African authorities and churches, receipts from hotels, shops and churches, railway tickets, medicine prescriptions et al.), dated 1946-1947. Overall a very interesting archive in very good condition.
Extensive interesting archive of original photographs, letters, and ephemera from the estate of Hildur Carolina Luck, a secretary of Swedish Kvinnelige Misjons Arbeidere (Women Mission Workers’ Organization) in the 1940s. The archive’s contents are closely related to the life of Hildur’s brother, Charles Cardale Luck (1875-1954), a known Swedish artist and a residing farmer in eastern Kenya in the 1920-1940s. The archive contains over 140 original photos taken during Hildur’s visit to her brother’s Gwonongween estate near Lumbwa (Kenya’s Rift Valley region) in autumn-winter 1921-1922 (see the letter by Cicely Luck from 17 Oct. 1921). Over twenty images were taken in the estate, including portraits of Cardale Luck, his wife Cicely and their four children George Thomas Axel (1911-?), Rolf Cardale (1912-1944), Cecil Percy (1917-2008), and Andolie Sophia (ca. 1920-?), with nice photos of the wife and children feeding the chickens, two younger Luck kids posing next to an African hut, portraits of native farm workers milking cows, Kikuyu girls near Lumbwa, native men dancing on the front lawn of the estate, servants moving furniture out of or to the estate, a panoramic view of the estate taken from the distance, views of the nearby mountain ridges of the Great Rift Valley, and others. About twenty images of Kenya show streets in Mombasa, Fort Jesus on Mombasa Island, a street in Kavirondo district, a native dance, termite mounds, people from Kavirondo in festive costumes, and others.
Over sixty interesting photos were taken during Hildur Luck’s trip to the missionary stations in Mbarara (Ankole region of Uganda) via Lake Victoria. The photos show Church Missionary Society station in Ndejje (native girls posing with missionary “Miss E. Brewer”), children on a lesson in CMS school in Mbarara, mission bungalow in Mbarara, native church in the Ankole region, a group of native boy scouts in Mbarara, missionary “Miss Brittain” on a bike posing with native boys in the Ankole region, a female missionary teaching native girls sowing, people leaving Kampala Cathedral after the service, CMS hospital in Kampala; several group portraits of Ugandan native Christian priests with their families; view of the graves of English missionary and martyr James Hannington (1847-1885) and missionary George Lawrence Pilkington (1865-1897) apparently in Kampala; portraits of Hildur Luck being carried by native porters across a river and driven in a cart, a portrait of native carriers moving heavy luggage uphill, and numerous portraits of native villagers, children, babies, girls carrying water, musicians playing drums, girls working on a field, and others. There are also fourteen interesting images of Lake Victoria and Ripon Falls in Uganda (now submerged after the construction of the Owen Falls Dam in 1954), showing native canoes in Jinja, a village on the lake shore, native boat with the sign “Africa, Entebbe” on the stern, and Hildur Luck and her brother (?) posing in front of the Ripon Falls.
The letters include four early ones written in the first years of the Luck family’s life in the Gwonongween estate (dated 31 July 1920 – 26 Oct. 1922), and twenty-seven later ones, written in the family next house in Ol Ngatonga farm, Kitale region of Kenya (16 Dec. 1938 – 12 Dec. 1948). Written mostly by Cicely Luck (with a few authored by Cardale) and addressed mostly to Hildur or her sister Nilsalie (Nilsalie Frederica Hallencreutz, 1878-1972), the letters talk about family affairs and life in Africa, household duties, crops, farm animals, Swedish food they had a home, risks of getting sleeping sickness and malaria, locust attacks, Swedish Mount Elgon Expedition (4 Aug. 1920), the beginning of WW2 (4 Sept. 1939), Russo-Finnish War of 1939-1940 (22 Feb. 1940), the death of their second son Rolf (5 Nov. 1944), the end of WW2 (14 May 1945), the plans to move to Cape Town for retirement (12 Dec., 1948), and others.
A long fascinating letter by Cicely Luck dated 26 October 1922 gives a detailed account of their car trip from Jinja to Kisumu on the shore of Lake Victoria via Busia, with a thunderstorm and heavy rains getting their car stuck in the mud and forcing them to stay overnight in the mud huts of a nearby rest camp; a long colourful passage describes Kavirondo people coming back from a Ngoma party whom the travellers met on the way: “I can’t attempt to do justice to their attire – it was infinitely varied & grotesque beyond belief! Pat & I could really have wept at being unable to snap them. <…> All the women were oiled until they gleamed like well kept mahogany. They had painted their legs with grey <…?> paint, but otherwise were not got up, save for numerous bead ornaments, hair oiled etc. They really looked delightful, or rather the young girls did, before child-bearing had spoilt their figures, poor dears. They were so graceful & unselfconscious in their movements & looked so happy, teeth & eyes gleaming in competition with their polished limbs. All the men were painted but not like the Lua Kavirondos the other side of Nunias that you took a snap of – not all over haphazard, but carefully with elaborate designs <…> in dull red, grey & ochre coloured earths. Some had nose, mouth & chin painted yellow, outlined in red, others had eyes patterned. Almost all had elaborate patterns in 2 or 3 colours on the legs. Some wore leopard skins, & other “cat” skins, not slung over the shoulders, but round the waist, giving quite a skirt=-ike effect. One wore, I think, a hyena skin, but I can’t be sure. Some crowned these costumes with European straw hats, preferably 2 on tops of each other – Tenai fashion - & that, together with their <…?> salutes, were indescribably ludicrous, when combined with their native war paint! <…> They carried huge shield & spears – one had on European boots! Some wore tusks & horns all round their heads, these I think were the most alarming to the eye – truly they were all like the worst nightmare of cannibal chiefs that a fever-haunted child-brain could conjure up. And yet you know they were very kindly should & saluted & “jamboed” us very friendly as we passed, & grinned like pleased school-boys at our open admiration!”
Other excerpts from the letters:
Swedish Mount Elgon Expedition (April-July 1920): “Just now we have 3 of the Swedish Expedition with us – Capt. & Fru Lovén, Dr. Granvik – it is very nice to have them to talk to & hear all their adventures at Elgon & en route. They are very pleased with their time & the results of their labours, & on the whole the weather has been all in their favour. They will stay here for some days before going for a brief trip to Uganda, after which they go home with their spoils. I so ejoy having Marta Lovén here, one never sees white women here, just swarms of men <…> Fru Lovén has brought a charming little baby monkey with her – you would delight in him I know. As I write he sits on the balustrade of the verandah, gracefully scratching fleas with one paw, & draping his knee long tail around him. He eats Cape gooseberries <…> and is really quite dreadfully human! <…> They hope to take him home with them, but the pity is that baby monkeys grow up & become large and ugly!” (Cicely Luck, letter from 4 Aug., 1920).
WW2: “We are this year going in chiefly for flax which is so badly needed for war purposes, aeroplane wings covering in particular <…> We may have to go in for pigs and more cattle to supply the troops in Egypt with bacon & butter & cheese” (22 Feb. 1940); “The rationing, which mainly hits town people, is by no means severe, and we have all we need. Of course, we have had masses of troops to feed, and still have <…> Renewals, renewals of every kind needed to replace everything that has got worn out during the war, not least agricultural machinery everywhere, then too fabrics of every sort and kind <…> Spares of every sort & kind for machinery and cars have been most difficult to get” (Cardale Luck, 16 Sept. 1945).
Germans: “Even in Tanganyika, the missionaries preached Nazism from the pulpits and had Hitler’s <…?> in the churches, & that with few exceptions” (Cardale Luck, 16 Sept. 1945)
Death of Rolf Cardale Luck: “We received this wire from Airgroup Nairobi yesterday morning: “Deeply regret to inform you H.Lt. R.C. Luck D.F.C. Reported missing Oct. 28th, failed to return to base from special mission.” What this “special mission” was I hope we may know some day is not now. As presumably his Catalina came down at sea & they must have led scout planes scouring the probably area for 4-5- days before the telegram was despatched…” (Cardale Luck, 5 Nov. 1944).
Overall a fascinating extensive archive giving a first-hand account of white settlers’ life in the 1920s-1940s British East Africa.
Charles Cardale Luck was a son of a prominent Swedish businessman of English origin Percy F. Luck (1844-1915). Charles Luck studied engraving in the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, and later in England and France, exhibited at the 1913 Salon (Benezit Dictionary of Arts) and moved to Kenya in 1920. While residing in Africa, he authored an article “The Origin of the Massai and Kindred Tribes and of Bornean Tribes” (The Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society, London, 1926, August, pp. 91-193).
Price: $1,850.00 USD