Various places: 1909-1916. 5 5/8” x 7¾”. String-tied brown cloth over boards, the front board with debossed title, “Photographs/A. Nielen.” 98 pages, all but one with a hand-colored photograph measuring 3½” x 5½”; all are captioned. Album very good with light wear and a partially split front board reinforced internally with archival tape; photos generally near fine or better.
Andries Nielen was a Cincinnati businessman who ran a successful firm which imported coffee, tea and art objects and also sold household goods. In 1905, he launched his 2nd career as a photographer and postcard issuer. He traveled the world snapping photos while recording their place and date, ultimately using many of them for his postcards, in turn becoming an exceptionally prolific and successful postcard publisher.
The backs of Nielen's postcards often contained typescript phrases of his own or others that Nielen hoped would spread kindness. He begins and ends this album with them, with the front pastedown quoting himself: “Travel broadens the mind and makes the distant more near, the mysterious more natural, the strange habits more justifiable. It is all in the understanding.” The rear pastedown has a quote from Carl Schurz, the German revolutionary who became the United States Secretary of the Interior: “Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the sea-faring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides and, following them, you reach your destiny.”
Between those two quotes are 97 exquisitely hand-colored photographs taken by Nielen in ten different states and 18 foreign countries. Possibly used by Nielen as a salesman's sample, California, with eight photos, Hawaii with seven and Ohio, with five, are the most represented states, with Washington, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Minnesota and Wisconsin having one photo each. Highlights include a birdseye view of the business district of Clifton Forge, Virginia, the Mystic Gardens in Del Monte, California and the Chapel of the Roycrofters in East Aurora, New York.
31 photos depict Japan, and the album's first page has a Nielen postcard showing a man in a rickshaw near Yokohama. Other images of Japan include geishas, children working, a waterfall in Kobe and Shiba Park in Tokyo. There's a fantastic photo of newly decorated umbrellas outside an umbrella factory in Yokohama and at least ten show homes and living conditions of local peoples in Kanagawa, Kawasaki, Shiraoi and elsewhere.
Depicting the local populace, as well as occupational and street scenes were a common theme in many of the other foreign country photos with Holland having the second largest concentration of ten images followed by Austria with five.
Other countries, most represented in one or two photos each, include Norway, Sweden, Egypt, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain, China, Ceylon, New Guinea, New Zealand, Australia, Peru and the Tonga Islands.
While this album is unique, we handled a similar Nielen album years ago that focused on the United States, and the Cincinnati Public Library holds his photography archive. A wonderful album, bursting with color, and highlighting the people, working and living conditions in numerous locales. Very good. Item #6223