HMS Widgeon patrolling the Yangtze.



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Album with Thirty-three Original Photographs of the Upper and Middle Yangtze River. Thirty-three mounted gelatin silver prints, mostly ca. 8x10,5 cm or slightly smaller. Large 8vo (ca. 26x16 cm). Original green full cloth album with gilt lettered title “Photographs” on the front board. 24 card stock leaves (6 blank). 6 family photos of the same size at rear. Slightly rubbed on extremities and weak on hinges, several images slightly faded, but overall in good condition. N.p., ca. 

From the end of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th, Western powers patrolled the Yangtze, protecting missionaries and traders, and safeguarded what was deemed to be 'national interests'. The present is an interesting album apparently compiled by a crew member of HMS Widgeon. Among the images are three photos of British gunboats (two most likely showing HMS Widgeon), several portraits of British sailors (one with Chinese children on a river bank), a portrait of “Tibetans, taken on board 'Widgeon' at Chungking, January 1909,” over a dozen river views (Chinese boats, rowers, a group of workers in harnesses dragging a boat upstream, scenes of boat launching, head shaving on a river bank, et al.), as well as an extraordinary image showing villagers listening to music from a gramophone.

The gunboats on the Yangtze River “were vitally needed... Western merchants were vulnerable, so in May [1900] the two gunboats braved the rapids, and battled their way upriver to Chungking... Like her sister ships Teal and Moorhen, HMS Widgeon was a lightly enlarged version of the earlier two gunboats, and was shipped out to the Orient, and re-assembled in Shanghai. Widgeon entered service on the upper and middle Yangtze in 1904, and she remained there for three decades, before being decommissioned in 1931. In September 1926 she played an active part in the Wanhsien Incident, as her crew attempted to recover two British-registered freighters from a Chinese warlord” (Konstam, A. Yangtze River gunboats, 1900-1949. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2011, p. 8).

Stock Code: 227688

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