CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

CHRONICLES OF OUR GENERATION

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1870 CHINA



Stunning images of 1870s China, featuring portraits of beggars, princes and Mandarins offer a fascinating glimpse into the country’s traditional past 




  • The images were taken by Scottish photographer John Thomson in the 1870s
  • His pictures form the first travelogue of China, and were published in 1873
  • Two volumes of his study are set to go on sale in New York next month
  • Auctioneers expect interest from around the world, and the books are expected to fetch around £20,000 
A stunning collection of pictures of China in the 1870s, ranging from beggars to Mandarins and princes, looks set to sell for a huge £20,000.
The first ever travelogue of the country was taken by Scottish photographer John Thomson, who was a pioneer in photojournalism.
His study, Illustrations of China and its People, included images taken in often perilous situations, and was first published in 1873.
Two volumes of photojournalist John Thompson's study of 1870s China will be sold at an auction in New York next month
Thompson is credited with creating the first ever travelogue of China
Two volumes of photojournalist John Thompson's study of 1870s China will be sold at an auction in New York next month
Thomson spent five years travelling around China with his cumbersome camera to capture the images
Thomson spent five years travelling around China with his cumbersome camera to capture the images
It is thought that the two volumes will attract bids from all over the world, and it is expected to sell for around £20,000
Thomson was described as a 'very enterprising photographer'
It is thought that the two volumes will attract bids from all over the world, and it is expected to sell for around £20,000
Now two volumes, including 48 photographic plates and 110 callotype images, will go under the hammer in New York on February 14, where bids are expected to be received from across the world. 
Daile Kaplan, specialist with Swann Auction Galleries, which is carrying out the auction, said: 'This is essentially the first photographic travelogue dedicated to China. 
'Thomson spent five years in China, travelling 5,000 miles and carrying his cumbersome camera, equipment and darkroom chemicals often in regions westerners had not yet seen. 
Thomson's images convey a lot of the exotica he was interested in, auctioneers have said
Thomson's images convey a lot of the exotica he was interested in, auctioneers have said
The book was first published in 1873 and contained a detailed documentation of China and its people
The book was first published in 1873 and contained a detailed documentation of China and its people
Jui-Lin, governor-general of the two Kwang provinces, was among Thomson's subjects in the fascinating photo study of China
Jui-Lin, governor-general of the two Kwang provinces, was among Thomson's subjects in the fascinating photo study of China
'He was a very enterprising photographer who not only made these images, but also wrote very detailed anecdotal accounts of his experiences. 
'What he achieved was a very detailed documentation of China and its people.
'These are the first two volumes that he published upon returning to the UK. 'The images featured in the book are known as callotypes, which rely on a photographic negative. 
'Therefore the images have remarkable detail and convey a lot of the exotica that Thomson was fascinated with. 
The travelogue features images of China from the 1870s, and were taken by John Thomson, who travelled 5,000 miles across the country
The travelogue features images of China from the 1870s, and were taken by John Thomson, who travelled 5,000 miles across the country
The photographer spent 10 years travelling around the Far East and is a pioneer of photojournalism
The photographer spent 10 years travelling around the Far East and is a pioneer of photojournalism
The travelogue will go on sale in New York next month, where it is expected to fetch around £20,000
The travelogue will go on sale in New York next month, where it is expected to fetch around £20,000
The photographer visited remote regions in China, where many had never seen a Westerner before
The photographer visited remote regions in China, where many had never seen a Westerner before
'The images are very intimate - one set shows women's different hairstyles - and convey the stories and experiences that he had.'
Thomson learned about photography during an apprenticeship under a scientific instrument manufacturer, and left his native Edinburgh for Singapore in 1872.
He spent 10 years travelling around the Far East documenting the its people, landscapes and artefacts.
The fascinating photo collection includes images of beggars, Mandarins and princes from Thomson's five years travelling across China
The fascinating photo collection includes images of beggars, Mandarins and princes from Thomson's five years travelling across China
Thomson photographed a broad range of subjects in his five years in China
The photographer's intriguing images give a unique insight into life in China in the 1870s
Thomson photographed a broad range of subjects in his five years in China
In China, he travelled from the southern trading ports of Hong Kong and Canton to the cities of Peking and Shanghai, the Great Wall in the north and deep into central China. 
Thomson's travels in China were often perilous, however, as he visited remote regions.  Most of the people he encountered had never seen a Westerner or camera before. He carried a bulky wooden camera, fragile glass plates and potentially explosive chemicals.
His images range from humble beggars and street people to Mandarins, princes and senior government officials, and from remote villages and monasteries to Imperial Palaces. 
Intimate portrait shots taken by Thomson on his travels show the unique hairstyles of Chinese women in the 1870s
Intimate portrait shots taken by Thomson on his travels show the unique hairstyles of Chinese women in the 1870s
An image of Chao-Chow-Fu bridge was among the scenes captured by the Scottish photojournalist
An image of Chao-Chow-Fu bridge was among the scenes captured by the Scottish photojournalist
The fascinating images give a unique insight into life in China around the 1870s
The fascinating images give a unique insight into life in China around the 1870s
Thomson returned to the UK in 1872 and published his work the following year. 
In his introduction, he wrote: 'My design in the accompanying work is to present a series of pictures of China and its people, such as shall convey an accurate impression of the county I traversed as well as of the arts, usages, and manners which prevail in different provinces of the Empire. 
'With this intention I made the camera the constant companion of my wanderings, and to it I am indebted for the faithful reproduction of the scenes I visited, and of the types of race with which I came into contact.' 
Thomson later became a portrait photographer of High Society in Mayfair, and was appointed photographer to the royal family by Queen Victoria in 1881. He died in 1921, at the age of 84. 
Two men producing tea in China during Thomson's travels is one of the images which feature in the travelogue
Two men producing tea in China during Thomson's travels is one of the images which feature in the travelogue
Workers weighing teas for exportation in one of Thomson's images
Workers weighing teas for exportation in one of Thomson's images
A Canton tea house features in the collection of images which goes on sale on February 14
A Canton tea house features in the collection of images which goes on sale on February 14
A tea tasting room in the 1870s was one of Thomson's subjects in the fascinating travelogue
A tea tasting room in the 1870s was one of Thomson's subjects in the fascinating travelogue
The travelogue was purchased by a 19th century American socialite, and passed through her family for more than a century before emerging for sale at auction next month. 

THE WRECKS OF THE CORNISH SHORES




19th century photos show whole towns turning out to see vessels smashing themselves to pieces on wild Cornish shores



  • black and white photos revealed from the archive of photographic family the Thorns from Bude
  • The images candidly illustrate life in Victorian Cornwall from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century 
  • North Cornwall is renowned as a blackspot for shipwrecks and towns would gather to watch them
A fascinating collection of images from the early days of photography picturing shipwrecks off the Cornish coast - when whole towns would turn out to watch the action - has been revealed.
The stunning assortment of 250 black and white photos, many of which have never been seen before, come from the archive of photographic family the Thorns from the seaside town of Bude.
The images candidly illustrate life in Victorian Cornwall from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century, and the most stirring pictures are those of the shipwrecks, with dozens of individual incidents documented.
North Cornwall is renowned as a blackspot for wrecks and towns would gather to watch when they took place. The Thorns became some of the first and only people to capture these moments with their early apparatus.
Most important to the town of Bude was the shipwreck of Bombay-bound 'Bencoolen' in 1962. The 1,500 tonne, 32 crew vessel got into trouble when its main mast was ripped off in the midst of a storm.
It resulted in the death of 27 crew members – and, aside from its tragic circumstances, the incident has become legendary in Bude because much of the wreck was used to build the town.
Wood from the hull, which was a prized commodity at the time, was salvaged and used as timber. Residents also made use of Bencoolen's discarded contents, which included telegraph posts and walking sticks. 
Another wreck was the Capricorno in 1900, which resulted in the drowning of 12 of its 14 crew. The 1,000 tonne vessel was ferrying coal from Cardiff to West Africa when she sailed into the Bude breakwater in stormy seas. 
The area became known as the Wreckers' Coast due to claims of 'wreckers' who used false lights to lure ships onto the rocks so they would run ashore and be plundered – although it is unclear if this ever happened.
A new book, titled 'Thorns of Bude', has been compiled and written by cousins David and Stuart Thorn - relatives of the Victorian Thorns. The collection also includes local people, buildings, beaches and streets.
One wreck of note in Cornwall was that of the Capricorno in 1900, which resulted in the drowning of 12 of its 14 crew
One wreck of note in Cornwall was that of the Capricorno in 1900, which resulted in the drowning of 12 of its 14 crew
Fascinating shots show residents climbing on the remains of the Capricorno wreckage some time after the incident
Fascinating shots show residents climbing on the remains of the Capricorno wreckage some time after the incident
The 1,000 tonne vessel was ferrying coal from Cardiff to West Africa when she sailed into the Bude breakwater in stormy seas
The 1,000 tonne vessel was ferrying coal from Cardiff to West Africa when she sailed into the Bude breakwater in stormy seas
The images feature in a new book, 'Thorns of Bude', which has been compiled and written by cousins David and Stuart Thorn
The images feature in a new book, 'Thorns of Bude', which has been compiled and written by cousins David and Stuart Thorn
The images of the Capricorno and other wrecks illustrate life in Cornwall from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century
The images of the Capricorno and other wrecks illustrate life in Cornwall from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century
North Cornwall is renowned as a blackspot for wrecks and entire towns would gather to watch when they took place
North Cornwall is renowned as a blackspot for wrecks and entire towns would gather to watch when they took place
The rudder of the Giles Lang on Maer Lake (Crooklets Beach) is one of the many fascinating images in the new book
The rudder of the Giles Lang on Maer Lake (Crooklets Beach) is one of the many fascinating images in the new book
The Giles Lang, a St Ives schooner deliberately beached to save the crew while on passage from Porthcawl to Penzance
The Giles Lang, a St Ives schooner deliberately beached to save the crew while on passage from Porthcawl to Penzance
The Llandaff ran aground in 1899 and was pictured by photographic family the Thorns from the seaside town of Bude
The Llandaff ran aground in 1899 and was pictured by photographic family the Thorns from the seaside town of Bude
The Llandaff ran aground in 1899 on its way from St Malo in Brittany, northwest France, to Swansea in South Wales
The Llandaff ran aground in 1899 on its way from St Malo in Brittany, northwest France, to Swansea in South Wales
The Stuckley, Green Castle (tug) and the Llandaff prepare for the Green Castle to tow the Llandaff to Cardiff to be broken up
The Stuckley, Green Castle (tug) and the Llandaff prepare for the Green Castle to tow the Llandaff to Cardiff to be broken up
On February 16, 1912, the Elizabeth, a 51-ton Ketch, broke adrift in the channel and wrecked on Coach Rock
On February 16, 1912, the Elizabeth, a 51-ton Ketch, broke adrift in the channel and wrecked on Coach Rock
The wreckage of the Elizabeth, pictured in early 1912, now forms part of the Bude Sea Pool in Cornwall
The wreckage of the Elizabeth, pictured in early 1912, now forms part of the Bude Sea Pool in Cornwall
The Elizabeth's Captain Brinton sits, with Ninny Petherick, Jack Marshall, Reverend Norton, Jeffy Maynard and Bill Edwards
The Elizabeth's Captain Brinton sits, with Ninny Petherick, Jack Marshall, Reverend Norton, Jeffy Maynard and Bill Edwards
The Thorns' photographic business took off and before long the family were making decent money from their enterprise
The Thorns' photographic business took off and before long the family were making decent money from their enterprise
Concezione, an Italian barque of 420 tons, which was wrecked at Widemouth Bay, near Bude on November 7, 1900
Concezione, an Italian barque of 420 tons, which was wrecked at Widemouth Bay, near Bude on November 7, 1900
Concezione is one of many shipwrecks photographed by the Thorn family who dealt with early photographic equiment
Concezione is one of many shipwrecks photographed by the Thorn family who dealt with early photographic equiment
Samuel Thorn, the father of the Thorn photographers
Harry Thorn, who was the pioneer photographer in Bude
Samuel Thorn (left), the Thorn photographers' father, and Harry Thorn (right), who was the pioneer photographer in Bude
Sarah Thorn 1843-1932. She lived with her parents and then was a general assistant to them
Nellie Terey Thorn, 1869-1938, who was the daughter of Sarah Thorn
Sarah Thorn (left) lived with her parents and was their general assistant, while Nellie Terey Thorn (right) was her daughter
The 140-page Thorns of Bude by David and Stuart Thorn is available for £24.99 through Halsgrove Publishing