[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums]. Erasmus D. Preston, compiler.
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].
[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].

[Pair of American Scientific Expedition Photo Albums].

Hawaii, Capetown, St. Helena, etc. 1883, 1889. 2 vols: 4to, original blue cloth. 79 albumen photographs on 34 leaves; and oblong 4to, original pictorial gilt-stamped cloth, 66 albumen photographs on 33 leaves.

A pair of photo albums documenting two US Government sponsored expeditions tracking solar eclipses in the 1880s, compiled by Erasmus D. Preston, a member of both expeditions.

The first of these, undertaken in 1883, sailed aboard the USS Hartford to the remote Pacific atoll Caroline Island with the intention of observing the unusually long eclipse which passed over the island for some five minutes. The expedition traveled from New York City to Colón, Panama, aboard the Pacific Mail Steamship Acapulco; from there, they crossed to Panama City and boarded the steamer Bolivia and made stops at Buenaventura and Tumaco, Colombia; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Payta (now Paita), Peru, before boarding the USS Hartford in Callao, Peru, and setting out for Caroline Island, where they stayed between April 21 and May 9, building two observatories from brick and wood, setting up their equipment, and enjoying cordial and collaborative relations with the French expedition also on the island.

Returning to the United States, the crew stopped at the Hawaiian Islands, where two of its members remained in order to conduct other scientific observations, and where the rest enjoyed a visit before steaming to San Francisco. The photographs primarily depict the expedition’s various stops on its way to and from Caroline Island, including several street views in Colón (identified in the inscription as Aspinwall, the name given to the city by its United States émigré community); landscapes and native people on the Isthmus of Panama; a portrait of two “Natives of Ecuador” and a view of “Mt. Chimborazo, distant 30 miles”; “Bird’s eye view” and “suburbs” of Guayaquil; several views of the city of Lima; and a number of subjects in the Hawaiian Islands, including a portrait of a “Native Family and House,” “Dance in King’s Garden, Honolulu,” Hotel in Honolulu,” etc. Two of the Hawaiian photos, taken on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala, are reprinted in Preston’s 1888 report in the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Bulletin No. 22, entited “Determinations of Latitude and Gravity for the Hawaiian Government.” The album contains one “View on U.S.S. ‘Hartford,’” one photograph of the Hartford from shore, and one group portrait “on Caroline Id.”

The second expedition, begun in 1889 aboard the USS Pensacola, crossed the Atlantic to various points along the west coast of Africa. The itinerary and a map with the route traced in red are affixed to either side of the first leaf, and mark their departure from New York City, via the island of Horta in the Azores, to Freetown, Sierra Leone; Elmina and Cape Coast in what is now Ghana; St. Paul de Loanda (now Luanda) and Cape Ledo, Angola; then south to Cape Town, and inland to the Kimberly Diamond Mines in South Africa; and then back to New York City via the Island of St. Helena (where they visit Napoleon’s house); the Island of Ascension; Bridgetown, Barbados; and the Bermuda Islands. Photographs depict many parts and aspects of the voyage: the ship and its sailors “At Sea”; their destinations as seen from aboard the ship; views from land of the ship, including one of the “U.S.S. Pensacola firing salute in Jamestown Harbor, 22 Feb. 1890”; views of the towns and cities they visit, usually from an elevated perspective and sometimes with a designated portrait of the Mission House; and views of the landscapes they encounter, including “Kloof Road, Capetown,” and a striking view of the “Cliffs and Harbor — Loanda.” Particularly interesting, of course, in addition to the photographs of the scientific equipment, instruments, setup, and crew, are the many portraits of the native people encountered along the way. In addition to group shots (in Cape Ledo and on the Gold Coast), there is an extended series of single and double portraits taken in Angola, showing men and women from late childhood through adulthood, often posing with their tools or work, and in the case of one man, a musical instrument. This album also ncludes a fine four-part panoramic photograph of Cape Town and Table Mountain (image size: 7” x 36”).

These albums were compiled by Erasmus Darwin Preston (1851–1906), an assistant with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, who appears to be the only person to have sailed with both expeditions. Preston was active in astronomical, gravitational, and magnetic research, for which he traveled widely, including to Stuttgart, Germany, in 1898, as the United States delegate to the International Geodetic Association.

A fascinating collection of photographs documenting American scientific endeavor in the nineteenth century and the world travel it entailed, as carried out by the U. S. Navy.

REFERENCES: Report of the Eclipse Expedition to Caroline Island, May 1883. US Government Printing Office, 1884; The Biographical Encyclopedia of the United States. Chicago and New York, 1901, pp. 499–500; Determinations of Latitude and Gravity for the Hawaiian Government. United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, Appendix No. 14, Report for 1888.

CONDITION: Vol. 1: Very good. Covers worn but binding tight and pages clean; vol. 2: Significantly rubbed at corners and hinges of spine, head and foot of spine cracked. Several loose leaves.

Item #2878

Price: $8,500.00

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