FRY, W. ELLERTON. [Occupation of Mashonoland]-cover title.
London: self published, circa 1891. One of approximately 12 albums believed to have been assembled, with Fry's copyright notice mounted on the front paste-down. Period (likely issue) binding of three-quarters green morocco, lettered with the title and the name of the author on the upper cover, edges of mounts gilt. 17 7/8 x 11 1/2 inches (45 x 29.5 cm); 40 leaves of card on linen guards with 154 mounted carbon prints, each with a caption printed on the mount (of which five are two-panel panoramas). Rubbed and worn along spine, covers and edges. Bookplate of Hugh MacDougall. A Spy portrait of Selous is laid-in.
Fry arrived in South Africa in 1872, and after a varied career, he was employed at the Royal Observatory in Cape Town. He became assistant Astronomer-Royal in 1890. His photographic album, the Occupation of Mashonoland was self-published in London in about 1891. Only about a dozen sets are believed to have been assembled; fewer survive. Containing 154 carbon prints, it depicts the landscape and events along the line of march of the Mashonaland Pioneer Column, a small military force in the service of Cecil Rhodes and the British South Africa Company, which set out to annex Mashonaland and Matabeleland. Fry accompanied this group as an assistant to F.C. Selous, also in the capacity of official photographer (as well as intelligence officer, meteorologist etc.). The Column proceeded from Macloutsie (in what is now Botswana) to Fort Salisbury (now Harare, in Zimbabwe). Fry's photographs, of remarkable quality despite being produced under exceptionally difficult conditions, are an enduring record of both the landscape of the region, and of British colonial ambitions.
C Estate of Arnold 'Jake' Johnson
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