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Album with 71 Original Well-Preserved Albumen Studio Photographs of Panama, Showing the Construction of the Panama Canal (Dredges, Earthworks and Excavations, Auxiliary Rail Tracks and Trains, Settlements for American Workers), Panama Railroad (Tracks, Bridges, Stations), Colon (Front Street, Count Lesseps Palace, Office of the Panama Railroad Co., Washington Hotel, Bolivar Street, Harbour, &c.), Panama City (General View from the Ancon Hill, Church of Santa Ana, Metropolitan Cathedral, La Merced Church, Panama Bay, Panama Railroad Station, Office of the Panama Canal Company, Grand Hotel, Ruins of the Jesuit Church), Native Panamanians, &c. Ca. 1900s.


Ca. 1900s

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Oblong Folio album (ca. 28,5x37 cm or 11 ¼ x 14 ½ in). 24 card stock leaves. With 71 mounted original albumen photos, including 25 large images ca. 19x24 cm (7 ½ x 9 ½ in); the other photos are ca. 16x23,5 cm (6 ¼ x 9 ¼ in). Four photos are captioned and/or numbered in negative; seventeen photos with period pencil captions on the mounts. Period brown half sheep album with cloth boards, neatly rebacked; gilt-tooled title “Album of Photographs” on the front board; moire endpapers. The front pastedown endpaper with two mounted period paper labels (a bookplate and an instruction on how to mount photographs in the album). Mounts slightly waved, occasional age-toning, but overall a very good album with rare early strong photos.

Historically significant collection of large early, well-preserved original albumen photos, showing the construction of the Panama Canal and the state of the Panama Railroad, as well as the sites of Colon and Panama City in the 1900s.

The album opens with seven large photos of Colon, showing the Front Street (with “Gran Hotel Roma” on the far left and railway tracks and train on the right), Count Lesseps Palace and the statue of Chistopher Columbus; house of the Superintendent of the Panama Railroad facing the city beach; building of the “General Offices, Panama Railroad Co.”; the old building of the “Washington Hotel” (constructed in 1904) and a monument to the builders of the Panama Railroad (William H. Aspinwall, John S. Stephens, Henry Chaucey) with a group of Americans or Europeans posing next to it; Bolivar Street (with the railway track and street signs of “French meat market,” “Bazar Oriental,” “Sam Long laundry” and others). Two smaller images on the next leaf most likely show the harbour of Colon, with ocean ships, coastal steamers, railway tracks, &. (a building on the left of the top photo has a sign “Office of the American Contracting […?] Company”) A large photo at the end of the album is a close-up view of the statue of Christopher Columbus.

Forty photos show the construction of the Panama Canal, starting with a series of views of dredges and coastal steamers at work at the Atlantic end (three photos show the earthworks near Mindi, located between Colon and Gatun). There are also images of major excavations of the canal bed, auxiliary rail tracks, train engines and cargo platforms, Panama Railroad stations and bridges (likely, Barbacoas bridge), settlements for American workers, &c. Many photos feature native workers and American engineers.

The album also includes sixteen images of Panama City, starting with two large photos which form an excellent panoramic view of the city and Panama Bay, taken from Ancon Hill, with the terminus of the Panama Railroad and the port (on the left image) and Casco Viejo (the old town), on the right. The other photos show the Catholic church of Santa Ana, Panama Bay, the terminus station of the Panama Railroad (with horse-driven carriages parked in front), the office of the Panama Canal Company with the sign “Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique,” Grand Hotel (built in 1874, modern-day Central Hotel on the Independence Square), Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica, La Merced Church (built in ca. 1680s in the original Panama Viejo, one of the city’s oldest structures), La Boca neighbourhood, ruins of the Jesuit college and church (note the sign “Carpinteria Isidro Tejada” attached to the remains of the bell tower), entrance to the city cemetery and the graves (the signs on the crosses date them as 1885).

The other photos portray native Panamanians (women bathing and washing clothes in a river, harvesters of bananas) and show native thatched-roof houses.

Overall an important collection of large, well-preserved original photos of the construction of the Panama Canal, and views of the Panama Railroad, Colon and Panama City in the early 20th century.

A list of pencil captions (the spelling is original): Front Street, Colon; Lessep’s House Ch. Colon; Genl. Supt. House P.R.R. Colon; P.M. Office, Colon; Washington Yard, P.R.R., Colon; Bolivar Street, Colon; Bananier; Rancho; Puerto Panama; Puerto de Panama; Iglesia Santa Anna; Baye Panama; Stacion de Panama; Puerto de la Boca a Panama; Entrada del Cemeterio; Cemeterio en Panama; Statue of Ch. Colomb.

Item #PC55
Price: $7500.00