[Bermuda. ca. 1902-1910]. Forty-four mounted albumen photographs, each 7 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches. Oblong folio. Contemporary three-quarter pebbled leather and cloth, gilt. Spine neatly repaired in matching calf. Gift inscription penciled on a front blank. Images generally crisp and clean. Very good. In a red cloth clamshell box, gilt leather label. Item #WRCAM49579
A fascinating collection of early 20th-century photographs of Bermuda, from one of the noted local photographers of the era, William Weiss. Most of the photographs are stamped by Weiss's photography studio in the negative, and those that are not stamped are very likely also Weiss compositions. William Weiss was a commercial photographer active in Bermuda from about 1902 until his death in 1925. Many of the images here are iconic representations of Bermudian locations, also appearing later in reproductions, both monochromatic and in color, and on postcards. Some locations or subjects are identified in the image negative. The identifications within the images include the "Hotel Frascati," "Joyce's Dock Cave," "Date Palms" (two copies), "Cannon Rock," "A Fisherman's Home," "Whalers in Harbor," "Bananas," "H.M.S. PSYCHE in Dock," "Oldest House," "Devil's Hole," "Paw Paw," "Victoria Park," "Cedar Ave.," "Coral Rock," "Sperm Whale," "Screw Palm," "Swinging Bridge," "Royal Palms" (two copies), "Khyber Pass," "St. George's," "South Shore" (two different views), "Coca Nut Palm," "Gibbs Hill Light House," "Rock Quarry," "Lily Field," "Hamilton Harbor," "Tom Moore's House," "View from Gibbs Hill," "Ordinance Island," and "Rubber Tree." Eleven images feature human subjects, usually at work or utilized for reasons of perspective against architectural backgrounds. Of those photographs with human subjects, six contain images of people of color, including a delightful image of a older man playing a banjo while three children stand beside him, accompanying him on the triangle, snare drum, and tambourine, respectively. Determining an exact date for the album is a bit difficult. The image of the HMS Psyche in dry dock in Hamilton, Bermuda was taken in 1902 or 1903, after Weiss's arrival in Bermuda, but before the Psyche shipped out of Bermuda for service in Australia in December of 1903. So it is not logical that any earlier date could be assigned to the album than 1902. The album itself is stamped from the Bay City, Michigan studio of the photographic firm of Harman & Verner, which according to David Tinder's DIRECTORY OF EARLY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHERS closed shop in 1911. As a result, it is fairly reasonable to assume that the album was assembled between 1902 and 1910, and probably nearer the earlier date. An exceptional assemblage of early Bermudian photography by one of the early masters of the art on the island. Together these images provide a rich picture of life in Bermuda, of the hardscrabble life of the inhabitants set against the beauty of the landscape, the harbor, the sea, the flora, the architecture, and more.