NARRATIVE OF THE EXPEDITION OF THE AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON TO THE SOUTH-EAST COAST OF NEW GUINEA. OCTOBER TO DECEMBER, 1884
by [Erskine, Commodore James E.]: [Augustine Dyer, photographer]
Sydney: Thomas Richards, 1885. ,99pp. plus map, three chromolithographic plates, thirty-three original silver albumen prints, a four-sheet folding panorama of albumen prints, and a two-sheet panorama of albumen prints. Panoramas backed with linen, photographs mounted on card with printed captions. Large folio. Contemporary blue morocco, gilt, title gilt on cover. Extremities rubbed, corners bumped, boards lightly scuffed. Lightly foxed. Map with closed tear at right edge. Scattered foxing and wear to photographic mounts, but the images generally bright and crisp. Very good. This remarkable album contains a superb series of ethnographic and exploration photographs taken during the Erskine expedition, in which Great Britain established a Protectorate over the southern coast of New Guinea. All were printed and produced in Sydney, in a small edition for presentation. They illustrate the visit of the Australian Squadron under Commodore James Erskine in the fall of 1884 and the events surrounding their visit to New Guinea. The motivation for the expedition was imperialistic. "The Imperial Government...decided to take steps to establish a Protectorate over that part of the southern shores of new Guinea to the east of the territory claimed by the Netherlands, with the double object of preventing any foreign occupation of the country, and of protecting the inhabitants from aggression...." This declaration of the expedition's objective belies the tone of much of Erskine's NARRATIVE, which reads more like a travelogue than an official account. "Picturesque" is the most often used descriptive term, along with such passages as "the striking variety and beauty of the colour in the adjacent water were enchanting, and struck the beholder with wonder and admiration." Similarly, Erskine's own speech, considered for many years a "Declaration of Rights" for New Guinea, contrasts strongly with the text of the Proclamation itself. The latter is couched in formal, imperial language, whereas the former looks ahead in more open terms to the real benefits that the tribesmen might expect, and is very specific with regard to the protection offered by Her Majesty Queen Victoria: "look upon white persons whom the Queen permits to reside amongst you as your friends...." However, it is the photographs themselves, attributed to Augustine Dyer (1873-1923) of the NSW Printing Office, which are of prime importance. The album is principally a visual record, a piece of photo-reportage, unmatched by any other work of this time and place. Through the positioning of images of the official ceremonies alongside topographical views of the surrounding areas, the photographs themselves become a true part of the narrative. It is most impressive as an ethnographic album, one of the first such produced in the South Pacific. A special copy was delivered to Her Majesty the Queen as "a keen supporter of photography." The photographs are: 1) "Port Moresby, from the Mission Station." Four-sheet panorama. 2) "H.M.S. 'Nelson' at Port Moresby, S.W." 3) "General View of Settlement at Port Moresby, N.N.E." 4) "Commodore shaking hands with Native Chief 'OBE Vagi', on board H.M.S. 'Nelson', at Port Moresby." 5) "Native Village, Port Moresby, W." 6) "Ethel Island, and landing-place at Native Village, Port Moresby, S.W." 7) "Native Houses, Port Moresby." 8) "Native Village, Port Moresby, S." 9) "Native Village, Port Moresby, N.W." 10) "Hoisting Flag at Port Moresby, N.W." 11) "Yule Island, from Delena, Hall Sound, N.W." 12) "Landing-place at Delena, Hall Sound, N." 13) "Hoisting flag at Delena, Hall Sound." 14) "Koloka, the Queen of the Lolo Tribe at Delena." 15) "Landing at Motumotu." 16) "Landing at Motumotu." 17) "Firing the Feu de joie, Motumotu." 18) "New Guinea Chief, Motumotu." 19) "Native Village, Kerepunu, Hood Lagoon, S.W." 20) "Commodore reading Proclamation at Kerepunu, Hood Lagoon, W." 21) "H.M.S. 'Espiegle' saluting Flag, Hood Lagoon." 22) "Scene near Kerepunu, Hood Lagoon, N.E." 23) "A Chief's House, Kerepunu, Hood Lagoon, S.W." 24) "Commodore addressing Chiefs on board H.M.S. 'Nelson', Hood Bay." 25) "Argyll Bay, W.N.W." Two-sheet panorama. 26) "Commodore reading Proclamation at Argyll Bay, N.W." 27) "H.M.S. 'Nelson' saluting Flag at Mission Station, Suau, Stacey Island, South Cape." 28) "View from Stacey Island, N." 29) "Native Village, Suau, S.W." 30) "Native House at Suau." 31) "View from Dinner Island, China Strait - H.M. Ships 'Nelson' and 'Espiegle' at anchor, N.W." 32) "View from Dinner Island, S.W." 33) "Natives on board H.M.S. 'Nelson' at Dinner Island." 34) "View from Anchorage, N. side of Teste Island, W. by N." 35) "West end of Teste Island, from Anchorage, S.W." Not in THE TRUTHFUL LENS. Newton, SHADES OF LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AND AUSTRALIA 1839- 1988, pp.57-59.
(Inventory #: WRCAM49575)
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