Shanghai Municipal Police. British officer's photograph Album.
Shanghai: Ca. 1905 - 1910. Hardcover. A remarkable album of images and postcards, many taken by a British police officer of the Shanghai Municipal Police, which includes numerous vernacular snap shots titled in period ink, bound in an elaborately decorated lacquer album.
The Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) was the police force of the Shanghai Municipal Council which governed the Shanghai International Settlement between 1854 and 1943. The SMP's role was to provide stability in the settlement and to protect Western trade interests against pirates and various Chinese nationalist movements and uprisings.
The SMP was initially made up mostly of Britons; after 1864 it included Chinese. Over the years it grew to include a Sikh Branch (1884), a Japanese contingent (1916), a volunteer part time special police (1918), and a Russian Auxiliary Detachment (1941).
When the SMP began in 1854, the first detachment of 31 British was on loan from the Hong Kong Police and led by Samuel Clifton. Additional men were recruited from the Royal Irish Constabulary, London's Metropolitan Police and from the military presence in Shanghai. .
The police officer who took these snap shots is identified only by his first name, Andy, and he appears in one of the 56 original snap shots, which he entitles, "Chinese Soldiers and your humble". He appears in another which he captions "girls running away from me in country village".
The album consists of 12 photographs of Shanghai (10 3/4 x 8 1/2" and 8 x 5 3/4") of which
9 are entitled "Police on Parade" (showing the men wearing the ‘Custodian’ police helmet) including Indian police and Indian mounted police (Sikhs); 4 of Chinese Punishments (3 scenes of decapitations; 1 of people confined in a cangue), (6 x 4"); 56 original vernacular snap shots (5 x 4 1/4"); 1 "Parade in Egypt", showing mounted troops in the desert, signed G. Lekegian, who was the official photographer for the British Army in Egypt beginning in the 1890s; printed color postcards mostly by Kingshill, postally unused, split backs, in fine condition; and 2 period newspapers loosely inserted, one Chinese and one American (The Catholic News, November 14, 1914.
The 56 original vernacular snap shots create a layered impression of contemporary life in China, taken by the author and 3 British friends as they travel about the country. They include: the harbour; the jettee; a native court; the race course; street scenes; Up country trip (snowy mountain scenes); a country temple; a resort "Mokanshan" (sic); Soochow; our boat in Hangchow; trying to bargain (market place stall); one of the British men in a wooden cage; getting the bamboos together in the river; a noted gateway up country; Chinese river life; famous bridge; religious ceremony on boat; beggars boats; the Great Lake; Fishing; and hairdressing in the street.
The 108 postcards include: color printed views of Shanghai (one of German consulate & Astor House Garden); Chinese people, gardens, "thea house", festivals, Mandarins, opium smoker, Chinese trades people; Peking scenes; Yan Chow scenes; and more.
Oblong 4to (14 x 11") album, albumen and silvertone photographs. Black lacquer album cover decorated with inlays of bone and mother of pearl in the form of a rooster (1909 was the year of the rooster). Edges rubbed, spine lacking, first 5 leaves are loose, otherwise all fascicles are bound in. The photographs and postcards bright and clean. Newspapers loosely inserted chipped at edges. Ink manuscript inscription, "From Andy" at the front end paper. Good + condition. Item #26122