Early Africa and Asia travel photos auctioned

5th Dec 2012

Some of the earliest travel photographs ever taken in parts of East Africa and Asia went under the hammer in London this week.

The rare 19th century photos taken in Java, Africa, China and India went on sale at Bonhams.

They were taken by eminent photographers of the day, including James Page, Walter Woodbury and Felice Beato, in areas such as Ethiopia in Africa and Batavia in the East Indies (modern-day Jakarta).

Woodbury and Page went trekking on a photography expedition from Australia and across South East Asia before setting up a thriving business in Java.

As well as topographical views, their photographs depict scenes from family life and portraits.

Photographs from other locations around the world will also be put up for auction.

One album includes portraits of the eccentric Captain Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy, who's long had links with Ethiopia having first visited the country to help with the training of King Tewodros' army.

The photos show Captain Speedy - a six-foot-five redhead - in traditional Abyssinian dress, as a Bedouin chief, a Nubian chief, a Nubian warrior, and others in which he is acting out different moods and expressions, such as "ignorance", "superiority" and "equality".

World travellers may well be fascinated to see these rare examples of such early travel photography.

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