A particularly fascinating recent purchase is a stout cloth-bound album of photographs of the Dependency of Lagos, later to be the capital of Nigeria, marked “collected 1891/92”.
The collection was made by someone working for merchant company John D Fairley, which, being involved in palm oil and kernel shipping may be one of many ancestors of Unilever. There are some forty-six approximately full-plate sized landscape-oriented photographs, 8 by 6 inches or a bit smaller or larger, four half-plate sized, about 6 by 4 inches and eight “snap”-sized photographs 3½ by 2¼ inches.
As usual the photographs, sepia but not badly-faded, are glued firmly to both sides of the card leaves. The subjects include the raising of the British flag in two locations, the scene of a treaty signing between the “King of Ado” and the British Governor, a surprising “gift of boys” by Dahomian messengers to “The Queen and Governor” (so slavery cannot have been entirely dead), various groups of British merchants and administrators, groups of courtly natives, studies of individual native men, women and children and several of the opening of what was presumably the first railway in Nigeria.
Included are two photographs taken at the Niger settlements of Oritsha and Lokoja and just two photographs of Madeira and one of Tenneriffe. Most unusually (and valuably), nearly every photograph is captioned and many of the British are named (usually surname only). Buildings in the landscapes are also identified in hand-writing. This is a significant addition to the pictorial source-material for the early 1890’s in Nigeria.
Dave Mitchell, October 2017
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