BIG GAME HUNTING AND “WILD ANIMAL” SPECTACLES IN THE WOLFSONIAN MUSEUM COLLECTION

•July 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It was another era altogether. It was an era of safaris and heroic “Big Game” hunters—white men wearing pith helmets and carrying rifles to shoot “wild” animals in “Darkest” Africa. “Manly” American men like Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway, and Europeans stationed in the colonies prided themselves on pitting their lives against nature’s most dangerous beast.

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WATERCOLOR FROM AN ALBUM, TITLED HELDEN IN AFRIKA (1901?)
THE JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF COLLECTION

But all that is over now, or should be. We have entered an age where most of the world’s wild places have been reduced to national and provincial parks, game preserves, and wildlife sanctuaries, and where cheetahs, leopards, white rhinoceroses, panthers, and countless others have been added to the list of endangered species. The idea of men continuing to kill “big game” for taxidermy trophies is as environmentally atrocious as poachers killing elephants and rhinos to “harvest” horns and tusks. Thanks to the internet, people the world over are now familiar with the pathetic story of Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist (and spare-time big game hunter) who paid $50,000 for the privilege of going on safari and shooting a lion with a crossbow. His victim, Cecil, a celebrated lion fitted with a GPS collar, had been lured out of the Hwange national park, wounded with an arrow, and then killed and decapitated some forty hours later. The dentist and his guides may now be facing serious poaching charges in Zimbabwe.

But this new story is only one in in long line of such scandals. I recall the outrage provoked in April 2012, when it became public that while the Spanish people were suffering through the greatest recession since the Great Depression, King Juan Carlos of Spain was spending more than $50,000 for a safari in Botswana for the privilege of killing and posing proudly with two African buffalo carcases and a dead elephant.

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The recent flurry of international righteous indignation that has arisen over the senseless slaughter of Cecil the lion got me thinking about some related material in the Wolfsonian library collection: items from the era of colonialism, “big game” hunting, captive animal spectacles and other antiquated customs.

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THE LION MOTORDROME—ON THE MIDWAY (OR ENTERTAINMENT SECTION) OF THE CENTURY OF PROGRESS EXPOSITION, CHICAGO 1933-34

My own thoughts turn to Frank Buck (1884-1950), an American adventure-seeker who won world-wide fame as a “big game hunter” and wild animal collector in the 1930s and 1940s.

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Buck had first sought adventure in South America in 1911, returning from Brazil and making a tidy profit selling exotic birds. Appointed temporary director of the San Diego zoo in 1923, he quickly grew bored and quit after only three months to resume his passion for animal collecting. To recoup his losses after the 1929 Stock Market Crash, he co-authored and published an autobiographical book with Edward Anthony in 1930, titled Bring ‘Em Back Alive.

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GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

The book made the bestseller list and Buck published a steady stream of sequels, including Wild Cargo (1932), Fang and Claw (1935), an elementary schoolbook On Jungle Trails (1936) and Animals Are Like That (1939). Buck won instant fame starring as himself in movie versions of Bring ‘em Back Alive (1932), Wild Cargo (1934), Fang & Claw (1935), Jungle Cavalcade (1941), Jacaré (1942), Tiger Fangs (1943), and even encountered the (Bud) Abbott and (Lou) Costello comedy team in Africa Screams (1949). Disney even spoofed Frank Buck’s popularity in a Donald and Goofy cartoon “Frank Duck Brings ’em Back Alive” in 1946.

Buck also won notoriety for setting up his “Jungle Camp” (complete with “Monkey Mountain” on the Midway Boardwalks of the Chicago world’s fair (1933-1934), a brief appearance with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (1938), and another spectacle at the New York World’s Fair (1939-1940).

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Scenes from this home movie from a fair-goer includes shots of Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp in which monkeys hang out on a giant rock formation.

“Bring ‘em back alive” Buck had become such a household name in the 1930s, that a poster designed to ridicule overly-popular protests had demonstrating simians clamoring “Down with Frank Buck.”

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Frank Buck’s popularity extended even beyond the grave, when a series about his life (starring Bruce Boxleitner) aired in the early 1980s. In this comical clip of one episode, another discontented monkey threatens revenge on the animal collector.

Despite Buck’s “Bring ‘em back alive” trademark, several of his films did include staged “fights to the death” between wild beasts. While Frank Buck’s wildlife harvesting methods would raise more than a few eyebrows today, the tally of wild animals he captured and sent back alive to the world’s zoos and circuses remains impressive. The list includes more than 100,000 wild birds, 120 Asiatic and 18 African antelope, 100 gibbons, 90 pythons, 63 leopards, 60 tigers, 60 bears, 49 elephants, 40 kangaroos and wallabies, 40 wild goats and sheep, 25 giant monitor lizards, 20 tapirs, 15 crocodiles, 11 camels, 10 king cobras, 9 pigmy water buffalo, 5 Indian rhinoceroses, 5 Indonesian babirusas, 2 giraffes, 2 gaurs, and more than 500 different species of other mammals. Perhaps this is why his name and legacy are a far cry from the sullied reputations of contemporary “big game” hunters in pursuit of stuffed trophies.

I thought that a fitting end to this post would be to describe one last item in the library collection. Kubwa Simba is a children’s book written by George D. Lipscombe, illustrated by Joseph Marro, and published by the WPA New Reading Materials Program in 1941.

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Most interestingly, even in this story that predates decolonization, the decline in hunting safaris, and the rise of eco-tourism, the hero is not the “great white hunter” but a black maned lion who roams the Athi Plain between Mount Kilima Njaro and Lake Tanganyika. The book tells the tale of the biggest, bravest, and strongest lion in East Africa, Kubwa Simba, who defends his pride against Masai warriors and even vanquishes a huge black buffalo.

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Towards the story’s end, Kubwa is pursued by a “great white hunter” from New York determined to trap him and bring him back alive.

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This tale, at least, has a happy ending as Kubwa Simba uses all his brute strength to tear a hole in the enclosure and escape into the night, and into legend.

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Whenever I step into the public elevator in the museum and look up at the ornamental lions’ heads mounted there, I will think of Cecil and how much more beautiful it is to contemplate this work of art than a grotesque, stuffed trophy head.

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLES THROUGH WESTERN EYES: VISITS TO THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY BY SOME COLOMBIAN SCHOLARS AND A GROUP OF YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS

•July 15, 2015 • 1 Comment

This past week, we had two sets of visitors interested in the native peoples and cultures of the American and African continents. The first set of visitors were Luz Helena Ballestas Rincón and José Jairo Vargas (professors teaching in the Escuela de Diseño Gráfico de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia). As I guided the two professors and their daughters through the galleries, Dr. Vargas was particularly impressed by a group of Art Deco commercial posters on display which had recently been donated to the collection by Avram and Jill Glazer. Where I have a tendency in my own tours to focus on the visual expression of the messages, Dr. Vargas was very much more interested in and animated by the particular techniques used in the printing processes.

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Dr. Ballestas is a specialist in Native American art, having published (and donated to our library) a book on faunal imagery and symbols in the material culture of the indigenous peoples of her native Colombia. She was very interested in a series of New Deal mural studies on display that depicted North American Indians.

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In anticipation of her library visit, I had pulled a variety of artwork drawing on the material culture of the Navajo, Pueblo, and Blackfeet Indian peoples.

 

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One of the items I had chosen is an oversized portfolio titled Where the Two Came to their Father: A Navaho War Ceremonial. Jeff King (ca. 1865-1964) was born on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Pinedale, New Mexico where he was known in Navajo as Hashkeh-yilth-e-yah. King served as an U.S. Army scout between 1891 and 1911, and rose to prominence as a respected hataałii (singer of sacred songs, or medicine man). In that latter capacity, King performed a two-day long war ritual designed to protect the souls of the Navajo youth leaving the reservation in 1941 to fight for the United States in the Second World War. Maud Oakes, an ethnologist living on the reservation at the time, was granted permission to record the ceremony and the sand paintings. King’s text and Oakes’ paintings were published as a large-format portfolio, which included commentary by the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell (1904-1987).

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Other Navajo-inspired materials on display were several works on Navajo rug design and a series of English-Navajo language primers published by the Education Division of the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs under the direction of John Collier, Sr. During the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Administration promoted a New Deal for the Indian that recognized native self-governance and tribal sovereignty over communal lands and reservations, stimulated the domestic production of carpets, blankets and other native handicrafts, and encouraged the Navajo to retain their native tongue while simultaneously teaching them English.

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Written by Ann Clark, the Navajo primers describe the lives and seasonal responsibilities of native shepherds and include illustrations by Hoke Denetsosie.

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The guests were also interested in a book on Frijoles Canyon Pictographs which recorded the symbols in hand printed woodcuts by Gustave Baumann.

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But it was Handbook of Indian Dances, (a vibrant color block book about the Pueblo peoples published by Dorothy N. Stewart in Santa Fe, New Mexico), that really drew them in.

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The Wolfsonian-FIU library also holds numerous books, portfolio plates, and Great Northern Railway commercial calendars reproducing Blackfeet Indian portraits made by German-American artist, Winold Reiss (1886-1953).

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Later in the week, the library hosted a larger group of Sub-Saharan Africans visiting Florida International University as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

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The Wolfsonian museum collection is primarily focused on the period 1851 through 1945. Given Europe’s political, economic, and cultural dominance in the world in this era, much of what we have related to Africa is focused on military conflicts—such as the South African (or Boer) Wars—and materials documenting Italian colonial ambitions in Ethiopia and Somaliland. Much of our discussion consequently focused on propagandistic images of Africa and Africans produced in the context of colonialism. The library holds a couple of games designed to “educate” Italian children about the geography, history, and natural resources of Ethiopia, and to celebrate the conquests being carried out by their fathers.

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Other items include a set of postcards illustrated by Aurelio Bertiglia (1891-?). These postcards use images of children in colonial uniform to emphasize the supposed “humanitarian” mission of the Italian colonizers, and to imply that the conflict was as bloodless as “child’s play.”

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GIFTS OF STEVE HELLER

Many of the visitors were taken with the cover illustrations of Akbaba, a Turkish periodical that provided strong criticism of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini’s expansionist designs in the region.

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PROMISED GIFTS OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

Thanks to the generosity of long-time library supporter Frederic A. Sharf, the library also possess a large number of original diaries, journals, photograph albums and sketchbooks documenting the earlier colonial struggles and conflicts in South Africa.

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GIFTS OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

There are also hundreds of advertisements, brochures, and passenger ship menus in the library collection referencing travel to Africa. Not unlike the “native” themed calendar art of the Great Northern railway, much of these materials were designed to encourage European and American tourists to visit by emphasizing the “exotic” landscapes and peoples likely to be encountered on such trips.

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TWO EMPIRES, ONE PUBLISHER: TWO MONUMENTAL BOOKS IN THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•July 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Some few months past, The Wolfsonian-FIU’s Senior Development Director, Michael Hughes, brought a VIP visitor to the museum library just before leading a group on a tour of our World War I centennial anniversary exhibition, Myth + Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture. Austrian aficionado Devrin Weiss had asked to stop off in the library first in order to drop off a rather hefty gift: a 25 pound tome celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1908. As I unwrapped the package and we began flipping through the beautifully ornamented pages, I was immediately struck with a déjà vu-like sensation. The library had the previous day hosted another group of visitors, and still lying on the main library table was another heavy tome with strikingly similar decorative motifs. This other volume, however, was dedicated to the German Emperor, Wilhelm II and had been published in 1912–just two years before the outbreak of the First World War that indelibly sullied the Kaiser’s reputation (and ultimately brought down his dynasty and empire). As we turned the pages in unison, Mr. Weiss and I were amazed by just how closely the German book followed the patterns in the Austrian tome. As we have just completed the digitization of the Austrian work donated by Mr. Weiss, I thought I would ask Associate Librarian Nicolae Harsanyi, a specialist in Eastern European history and culture, to share with our readers a glimpse into these two Art Nouveau masterpieces. Here is his report: 

On December 1st, 1912, at the age of 49, Max Herzig succumbed to pneumonia in Vienna. Who was this awardee of the Iron Crown Order and of the Franz Joseph Order? Why is this sponsor of the Vienna Künstlerhaus and Secession important for our library collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU? The answer lies on the shelves in the back stacks of our rare book and special collections library. In our section of oversized holdings, we now have two of the master works of the publishing trade, monumental books produced at the beginning of the twentieth century in Central Europe, bearing the imprint of his name. A propos monumental books, the old line from one of Horace’s odes comes to my mind: Exegi monumentum aere perennius (I have raised a monument more permanent than bronze). Who were being celebrated with these books? The overt response appears in the dedication to the two crowned heads reigning in Germany and Austria, emperors Wilhelm II and Franz Joseph I.

Not long ago, Devrin Weiss, an enthusiastic collector of Habsburg memorabilia and keen supporter of the Wolfsonian, donated a massive elephant folio-sized volume. Published in 1908 by Max Herzig, the tome commemorates the 60th year of Franz Joseph’s reign. Bound in red cloth, the book has a central embedded panel on its front cover which displays a bold gilt stamped design of the Austrian crown.

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GIFT OF DEVRIN WEISS

Titled An Ehren und Siegen reich: Bilder au Oesterreichs Geschichte (Rich in honor and victories: pictures from the history of Austria) the book is introduced by elaborately colored plates, and is profusely illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of various moments in the history of the House of Habsburg. The decorative elements were designed by Heinrich Lefler (1863-1919), Joseph Urban (1872-1933), Joh. Jos. Tautenhayn, Ludwig Huber and Rudolf von Larisch (1856-1934).

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GIFT OF DEVRIN WEISS

A gallery of all the Habsburg monarchs until 1908 decorates the front and back paste-downs of the book.

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GIFT OF DEVRIN WEISS

The memorial book described above were similar in design to those in a similar volume which Max Herzig originally published in 1904, Deutsche Gedenkhalle (German memorial hall) celebrating the glory of Emperor Wilhelm II. The Wolfsonian library has the second edition of this tome, which was produced in 1912, also under the guidance of Max Herzig. This immense volume of German history and remembrances was illustrated with monumental full-page color illustrations by (among others) Heinrich Lefler and Joseph Urban.

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The historicizing design of the page layout as well as that of the decorations is strikingly similar to the volume about Austrian history.

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There are a few noteworthy difference as well as similarities. The border decoration used in the Deutsche Gedenkhalle uses a floral motif associated with Germany (the oak leaf) and the paste-downs are decorated with the coat-of-arms of the provinces that united to form pre-World War I Germany.

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Today the two empires celebrated in these books belong to the past, but the Art Nouveau artistry of the books produced by Max Herzig survives to this day.

LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES: A WOLFSONIAN REFLECTION ON THE SUPREME COURT RULING ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

•June 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

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CINDERELLA “THE SOPHISTICATED” DANCING WITH HER PRINCE CHARMING
(MUSIC COMPOSED BY HOLLAND ROBINSON
& ILLUSTRATIONS BY HIS LIFE PARTNER, MAC HARSHBERGER)

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling yesterday which recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry anywhere in the nation, I thought that I would provide a few images from The Wolfsonian-FIU collection to confirm the notion that love knows no bounds, even if it has taken our society some time to recognize the same.

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I thought that on this occasion, I would focus on an archive in our collection of the artwork of Frank MacCoy (“Mac”) Harshberger and his partner, the musical composer, Holland Robinson. Their life-long partnership and collaboration began in the 1920s, when the “twenty-something” friends from Tacoma, Washington went abroad after the war and became part of the expatriate American artistic clique that coalesced in “gay Paris.”

Two years of pre-med studies in the States had been enough to convince Mac that his true interest did not reside in medicine but in the fine arts, and he convinced his father to arrange for him to train in Paris in the atelier of Maurice Denis. In Paris, Mac embraced the new Art Deco aesthetics in his own work; there he was also reunited with his sister and muse, Kay—(who had recently married Jean de Landry)—and two other friends from his home town, Holland Robinson and Nina Payne.

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Holland had a real talent for music, and had been earning a living in Tacoma playing piano to accompany the silent films being shown in a local cinema. There he made the acquaintance of Nina, who came to the same theatre as part of a traveling vaudeville company. Learning that his best friend, Mac was off to Paris, Holland also made the decision to uproot and move to Paris and to devote himself to the serious study of music composition. There he absorbed the new harmonies of Satie and Debussy and combined them with American lyricism and Jazz. Nina also traveled to Paris and as a dancer became a star at the Folies Bergère.

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During their sojourn in Europe, the four friends became inseparable bon vivants enjoying the artistic and social life.

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WATERCOLOR OF JEAN AND KAY, HOLLAND AND MAC IN GENEVA, FROM HARSHBERGER’S MANUSCRIPT, UNE MEMOIRE D’UNE VISITE (1925)

In Paris, the aspiring artists and life partners collaborated on projects in which Holland composed music and Mac provided illustrations for the sheet music covers.

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In 1926, Mac and Holland moved back to the States, opening a grand studio in New York. There they launched Robinson-Harshberger Productions, publishing graphic art, limited edition books, and illustrated sheet music.

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Kay and Nina later returned to the States, also settling down in New York, where Kay provided lyrics for some of Mac and Holland’s musical and artistic publications.

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The prolific and happy partnership of Mac and Holland continued to thrive in the mid-to-late twenties.

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The 1929 Stock Market crash brought an end to the “roaring twenties” and ushered in a decade of economic depression that also took its toll on the Robinson-Harshberger partnership. While societal norms and the customs of those times did not allow Mac and Holland to marry, neither was their relationship a hidden or secret thing. Mac and Holland were partners in every sense of the word, and their collaboration has left us musically and artistically richer as a result.

SOMEWHERE I’LL FIND YOU, OR, PUBLISHERS’ DECORATIVE BINDINGS ON THE PHILIPPINES FROM THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•June 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Ms. Pienn has been working to catalog and digitize the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at The Wolfsonian-FIU. This collection is a treasure trove of rare books and often unique diaries, journals, and photograph albums documenting colonial enterprises in the Middle East and Africa, and military conflicts in the Far East. With the Philippines and China Sea controversies in the news of late, Rochelle has provided us with some materials from this region.

China’s recent creation of military outposts not far from the Philippines prompted the United States and Japan to protectively conduct naval maneuvers nearby. Ironically, almost seventy-five years ago, the Japanese occupied the Philippines in a hostile siege during the Second World War. In the vault of cinematic classics, the romantic film, Somewhere I’ll Find You, reunites its starring couple in Manila right as the Unites States is called to war.

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COPYRIGHT MGM STUDIOS

The movie’s leading man, the legendary Clark Gable, began filming right after his third wife, Carole Lombard, died in a plane crash. Upon its completion, Gable enlisted in the Army to fight against the Axis.

Looking even further back in history reveals a time when the United States and the Philippines were at war. Gifted to the U.S. by Spain after the Spanish-American War, the Philippines rumbled with unrest. Filipino natives became unwilling subjects of our republic and began a revolution. The Jean S. and Frederic Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library contains period rare books from the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), documenting this critical episode in the region.

Karl Irving Faust wrote Campaigning in the Philippines in 1899. His family’s American military roots stretched as far back as the Patriot War of 1837 on the U.S.-Canadian border. The cover is embellished with gilt-stamped decorations, including the emblem of the Second Oregon Infantry of San Francisco. The volunteer regiment secured Manila before fighting the Filipinos.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

A year later, Charles R. Mabey, Sergeant of Light Battery A Utah Volunteer Artillery, wrote The Utah Batteries: a History. The red cloth cover is stamped with a crude cutout illustration of an Army volunteer. Passages contain unapologetic racial slurs.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Stephen Bonsal’s book of fiction, published in 1900, masquerades as an actual collection of military correspondence. The officers enter the Philippines feeling overconfident, only to find a violent rebellion that threatens to overpower them. The golden horseshoe pictured on the cover is a visual representation of a literary metaphor, referring back to the Spotwood Tramontane Expedition in the early 1700s. Apparently the shiny souvenirs were promised to those who trekked through the Blue Ridge Mountains with then-governor Spotwood to signify their long and arduous journeys on horseback.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Hancock’s 1900 adventure novel traces the exploits of his fictional hero, Dick Carlson, pictured on the cover with his Filipino captors.

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A similar theme is explored in the 1906 imprint, Captured: the Story of Sandy Ray. The khaki-colored cover and the paste-down illustration of the story’s hero emphasize the military basis of the story. However, this work of fiction contains a romantic element as well, which is perhaps why the protagonist appears more portrait-ready than trenches-ready.

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This 1898 volume provides a more panoramic perspective of the Philippines from the point of view of a female journalist. Margherita Arlina Hamm may have been the first American war correspondent. She traveled extensively, covered the Spanish-American War, and wrote prolifically. This book is illustrated plentifully with photographs, and contains Hamm’s observations of race, industry, architecture, and social customs in the country.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Finally, Joseph Earle Stevens provides this somewhat precious account of living in post-war Manila. While he seems to enjoy the novelty of his surroundings, Stevens expresses polite impatience and distaste with the general lack of sophistication of his Philippine lifestyle. Before page 50, he employs an entire Filipino family to clean and choose his daily outfits.

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Explore The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library for other fascinating tomes on the Philippines.

 

 

THE DECO DECADES: THE INSTALLATION OF A NEW WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY EXHIBIT

•June 17, 2015 • 1 Comment

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Just this week, Wolfsonian museum art handlers Steve Forero-Paz and Carlos Alejandro have been taking down the rare book and special collections library exhibit, At Ease: Miami Beach during the Second World War, put up to celebrate our city’s centennial anniversary.

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As part of that continuing celebration, Associate librarian, Dr. Nicolae Harsanyi and private collector and Miami Beach aficionado, Lawrence Wiggins have worked collaboratively to select the materials to go in a new exhibition focusing on Miami Beach’s Art Deco architecture, dining establishments, and the nightclubs that drew tourists to the area during the 1930s and 1940s.

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GIFT OF LAWRENCE WIGGINS III

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GIFTS OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

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PROMISED GIFT OF MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

As Dr. Harsanyi and I have just finished loading the flat cases, and the art handlers are presently installing the materials into wall case, I thought that I would provide our readers with this “behind the scenes” preview of the exhibit which will open to the general public tomorrow.

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Stay tuned! Dr. Harsanyi will provide a follow-up post with more details about the exhibit he and Larry Wiggins put together.

BURMESE DAZE, OR, A BRITISH OASIS IN PICTURES AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•June 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn has been busily cataloging rare items from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection. She has most recently been working through some materials documenting British rule in India. Here is her report:

Enjoyment of multiculturalism is essential to living in Miami. On any given day, I can hear six different languages spoken at nearby tables in the South Beach coffee shop where I habitually sip my mocha. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to make friends from all across the world. The people I know from India, for example, are beautiful, intelligent, funny and wise. In my personal experiences with American yogi culture, much philosophy and lifestyle choices are gleaned from Indian history and civilization. However, India’s true allure, subjugation to, and relationships with the West are long and complex.

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Jordan Bloom & Batya Metalitz. Dharma Studio, Coconut Grove.

This one-of-a-kind photograph album from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection illustrates the appeal of British occupied India in the 1890s from the perspective of Captain Henry Marshall Barnes (18th Company, Southern Division, Royal Artillery).

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 GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Original photographic prints reflect a British view of a peaceful and prosperous time in Burma, Rangoon and Ceylon. Queen Victoria reigned as Empress of India. This group shot shows the members of Barnes’s company in front of the famous Golden Pagoda.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

When in India, do as the British do: the British national sport of cricket was being played just as though the teams were still across the pond.

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 The Irrawaddy River, which spanned Burma, was essential for trade and travel.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The makeshift vernacular structures of this native village contrast the elaborate architecture of the temple.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

At this point in history, the immensely talented and prolific photographer, Felice Beato, set up his own studio in Mandalay. Born in Italy and raised in Great Britain, Beato spearheaded the photojournalistic movement by accompanying military expeditions across the Far East. He adopted hand-coloring techniques to original prints popularized in Japan. He also excelled in studio portraits of natives, creating lush parlor pictures of attractive women.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Before the widespread availability of photography, many tourists drew and painted scenes from their travels. This lovely original watercolor was painted by Barnes himself.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

This copy of Adrian Jones’s 1896 oil painting, “Hurlingham-Nimble, Cicely, Dynamite and Lady Jane” currently hangs in the British National Museum. Jones and Barnes may have been well acquainted as it appears Jones captured Barnes’s likeness in the scene.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Barnes also included personal snapshots in his album. “Theatricals” shows a cheerful, costumed assembly at the India-Pakistan border. Pictures of friends and family members hearken back to Dover, England.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 Also back in England, Lord-Lieutenants presented decorations and awards.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

After the death of Queen Victoria, the company returned home. Barnes is seated among his fellow officers.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The vast and intricate landscape of India continues to captivate the West. For a look at more stunning period photographs, search The Wolfsonian-FIU’s digital collections online, or visit the Wolfsonian-FIU library and page through antique albums from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf in person.

 
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