Royal Commonwealth Society : Photographs of New Guinea

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p>Thirty-nine mounted prints mainly measuring 285 x 230 mm., and mainly covering the declaration of the British Protectorate along the south-eastern coastline of New Guinea, from Motu-Motu in the west, to Killerton Island in the east. The various flag raising ceremonies were performed by Commodore James Elphinstone Erskine (1838-1911), of the Australian station, who in turn appointed Hugh Hastings Romilly (1856-1892) as Acting Deputy Commissioner until the arrival of Sir Peter Scratchley the following year. Charles Lyne, correspondent for the 'Sydney Morning Herald', and covering the expedition for that paper, gives a detailed account of the journey in 'New Guinea' (Sampson Low, London, 1885), and nine of the photographs are original prints of illustrations in the book. Rhodes House Library has a volume of 'Narrative of the expedition of the Australian Squadron to the South eastern coast of New Guinea October to December 1884' containing chromolithographic illustrations and thirty six of these photographs. The accompanying text, together with Lyne's book, has been used in preparing the following captions. The album covers the whole expedition, from the first proclamation at Port Moresby on November 6th, to the final one at Teste Island on November 26th. The pictures are not, however, arranged in order, and a list is appended to the individual print catalogue, placing them where possible in a chronological sequence according to Lyne's detailed description of events. The proclamation is also covered, briefly, in James Chalmers' 'Pioneers in New Guinea' (Religious Tract Society, London, 1887), and by H. H. Romilly in 'Letters from the Western Pacific and Mashonaland 1878-1891' (David Nutt, London, 1893).</p> <p> Amended chronological sequence of prints:</p> <p> Plates 2, 8, 11, 16, 17, 22, 30, 33, 38 Port Moresby generally</p> <p>Plates 14, 29 Port Moresby, 5 November</p> <p>Plates 37, 23, 35 Port Moresby (flag raising) 6 November</p> <p>Plates 13, 27, 12, 7 Delena, Hall Sound, 8 November</p> <p>Plates 4, 26 Motu-Motu (landing) 9 November</p> <p>Plates 21, 39, 3, 25 Motu-Motu (flag raising) 10 November</p> <p>Plates 9, 19, 28, 32 Kerepunu, 18 November</p> <p>Plates 1, 24 Argyle Bay, 20 November</p> <p>Plates 5, 6, 15, 31 South Cape, Stacey Island, 21 November</p> <p>Plates 10, 18, 34 Dinner Island, 23 November</p> <p>Plates 20, 36 Teste Island, 26 November.</p> <p></p> <p>The photographs are possibly by C. Angerer: the illustration of Lyne's 'New Guinea', entitled 'Natives Houses and Canoes', opposite page thirty is marked 'C Angerer + G, Ph.', and some other plates have the same initials marked in one corner. No other mention of this name has been found, and it is also possible that this is a photo engraver's signature, rather than the photographers. 'The Encyclopaedia of Papua and New Guinea' (Melbourne University Press, 1972) states that J. W. Lindt of Melbourne records his experience with the expedition in 1884 in 'Picturesque New Guinea' (Sampson Low, London 1887) these being the first published photographs of New Guinea. Lindt did not, in fact, go to New Guinea until 1885, when he was official photographer with Sir Peter Scratchley's expedition. H. H. Romilly, in a letter dated 11th November 1884, from Port Moresby, states: 'Good photographs of everything have been taken by a Sydney man the Commodore brought up, and I have ordered a complete set to be sent to you.' In addition, the photographs are not of a quality comparable to Lindt's work, particularly his New Guinea pictures (for examples of this, see the fine autotype reproductions in 'Picturesque New Guinea'). It is very probable that there were two photographers present at at least one of the proclamations: 'A Pictorial History of New Guinea' uses a photograph of the proclamation at Kerepunu taken only a few moments after plate 28, but some yards to the right. Given the bulk of photographic equipment, and the time necessary between each exposure (even with dry plates), it seems unlikely that the two pictures were taken by the same photographer. The supposition that two photographers were present is confirmed by Arthur Keyser in 'Our Cruise to New Guinea' (W. Ridgway, London 1885), page 5, "HMS Nelson ... had on board as passengers ... two photographers."</p>


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