Simply entitled "DEUTSCHLAND", this album was produced by Ferdinand Hirt and Sons in Leipzig around 1906. Its production appears to be in close relation with Viceroy Duan Fang 端方 and his delegation's visit to Germany in the spring of that year (五大臣出洋). This delegation comprised around 33 members, and it is entirely plausible that less than 50 copies of this albums were ever produced. It is therefore extremely rare. I don't believe this was a mass-produced, commercial type of publication. It lacks a proper impressum, a foreword, postscript, table of contents, date, pagination, anything that would constitute the usual structure of a regular publication. Pending further research, I therefore conclude that it must have been a gift or presentation album to members of Duan Fang's delegation.
A few facts about this album:
- It contains 56 photographs, five of these are panoramas
- The range of subjects is very broad indeed: included are civil as well as military subjects, paired with architectural views, city- and landscapes
- Three images are in color (reproduced here), the rest is b/w
- The size of the album is 13 3/4 by 10 1/2 inches
- The size of the photographs (double-spread panoramas excluded) is 9 3/4 by 7 3/4 inches
- The quality of the original photographs is excellent, both from a technical and a compositional point of view
- All image captions, including the title, are bilingual, in Chinese (on top) and German (at bottom)
All images reproduced with a Sony R1 on a tripod; no flash was used, no sharpening applied; RAW files developed in Lightroom 3.2, with final adjustments through the Fortepan Auto preset for proper monochrome conversion.
Thomas H. Hahn
September 21, 2010