[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa]. Otis Manchester Poole, photographer and compiler.
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].
[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].

[A set of photo albums comprising over 2000 photos taken in Japan, as well as China and Formosa].

Various locations, primarily Japan, taken mainly between 1896 and 1906, with a small number of photos dating as late as 1922. Eight folio vols., original decorative cloth. 2182 photographs, various sizes, bromide prints and silver prints, some hand-colored, most photos with typed captions, 1 folding panorama.

A stunning and important set of eight photo albums documenting Japanese life, scenery, and culture, as well as the activities of an American expatriate in Japan and the foreign community to which he belonged. Also included are images of China, Hong Kong, and Formosa (Taiwan).

These albums, compiled and annotated by Poole, consist mainly of his own photographs, as well as some possibly taken by his father, Otis Augustus Poole (1840–1904), supplemented with commercially produced Japanese and Chinese photographs. The breadth of subjects represented is extraordinary and the image quality, especially of Poole’s photos, is often exceptional. Highlights include thirty-one images of the Ainu; a marvelous selection of genre and occupational images; numerous street scenes and town views; a series of photos of trade signs; a fold-out panorama of Hakodate; and theatrical photos of Fifteen Stages of Happiness (Saki drinking). These and the many other photos included here undoubtedly constitute one of the most robust and interesting bodies of photographs taken by an American photographer documenting Japan and its foreign communities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Otis Manchester Poole (1880–1978) was born in Chicago to a prosperous family, the youngest of three children. In 1888 he moved to Yokohama when his father, a trader in Japanese and Chinese teas, decided to permanently locate there. The family made its home at 89 Bluff, in the foreign settlement established there, situated above the sea. Poole attended the Victoria Public School where he made numerous good friends among his American and English schoolmates, as evidenced by many photos in these albums. Leaving school at the age of fourteen, he was tutored privately in French, Japanese, shorthand, and typing, soon thereafter taking a position with Dodwell, Carlill & Co., an English trading firm headquartered in London. Poole remained with the firm for fifty-three years, serving during the last twenty as the main director of the board at the company’s New York office.

As a young man in Japan, Poole developed passions for swimming, rowing, sailing, bird shooting, bicycle riding, sketching, painting, and mountaineering. It is in this last connection that Poole first mentions, in his unpublished memoir, his interest in photography, a trait he apparently inherited from his father, from whom he received instruction. While Poole’s mention of photography in his memoir is minimal, the following account of the family’s experience escaping the Bluff in the devastating earthquake of 1923, Japan’s largest on record, perhaps explains his reticence:

…people risked their lives in a hazardous scramble down to a not quite perpendicular cliff face, transferring half way down to a slide where the cliff had avalanched … Time had run out and as the fire struck the Naval grounds, people panicked and overwhelmed the rope, which broke before our eyes. Sheets of fire appeared above the brim like a Niagara and as it licked those who had feared to go over the cliff, many threw themselves over in flaming pinwheels, thudding in piles on the beach below. A sickening sight…

And later:

We poked around among the ruins, unearthing blobs of melted silver and glass, all that was left of our lovely wedding presents. And in one spot, where a Korean chest had stood in our drawing-room, filled with twenty-two albums of photographs illustrating thirty years of life in Old Japan, just a neat pile of perfectly foliated ashes. For safety’s sake, I had kept my negatives out in the stables, but they too had been burnt beyond redemption, as were all of my records of countless trips and explorations up country in the Mountains of Central Japan and among the disappearing Ainu of Yezo, the Northern Island.

This testimony lends both a mystery and a deeper significance to the photographs offered here. We find very little trace of Poole’s original photographs elsewhere, and no account as to how the present archive survived. Perhaps Poole kept a set of albums in the offices of his employer or brought a set back to America during one of his visits. Most likely, this question will remain unanswered. What is more definite is that the these surviving albums seem all the more valuable in light of the loss of the twenty-two albums at Poole’s home on the Bluff.

Poole’s photographs illustrate books by authors Walter Weston (The Playground of the Far East, London, 1918) and Burton Holmes (Travelogues, NY, 1910). Both authors were excellent photographers in their own right, and clearly held his work in high regard. Poole was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and several enlargements of his “photographs of the Japanese Alps taken during the scaling of Yarigatake in 1905 hung on the walls of its Headquarters in London for many years.” An author as well as a photographer, Poole published two books, Nikko to the Rapids of the Tenryugawa : a record of a walking trip August 13th to August 28th, 1904 (Yokahama, 1905), a limited edition of fifty copies illustrated with plates after his photos, and The Death of Old Yokohama : in the Great Japanese Earthquake of September 1, 1923 (London, 1968).

A rich, rare, and highly varied photographic document of Old Japan and the expatriate life of the photographer.

REFERENCES: Bennett, Terry. Photography in Japan, 1853–1912 (Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2006), pp. 271-73.

CONDITION: Two albums with one cover detached, all albums heavily worn at spine, one spine perished, all extremities worn, one album with damp-stain at upper right corner of front cover, photos generally very good or better, panorama of Hakodate with some creases and short tears.

Item #5867

Price: $35,000.00