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Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History Including the Library of Colin and Joan Deacon

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Oman and Iraq--Samuel Miles, Louis Maguire and Joseph Svoboda
ALBUM OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF OMAN AND IRAQ PRESENTED BY THE UNITED STATES CONSUL IN MUSCAT TO THE BRITISH POLITICAL AGENT IN THE GULF. [1871-1885]
Folio (372 x 320mm.), PRESENTATION INSCRIPTION in ink on first mount: 'To Lieutenant Colonel S.B. Miles from United States Consulate, Muscat, Arabia, 6th September, 1885' with mounted ALBUMEN PRINT of a European lady (Maguire's wife?) playing a harp with servants in an interior, and 92 ALBUMEN PRINTS by Louis Maguire, Joseph Svoboda, Samuel Miles and others, mounted recto and verso on card on cloth guards, together with 2 mounted ALBUMEN PRINTS (slightly worn) loosely inserted of Ctesiphon in Iraq by Joseph Svoboda (each signed and dated 1871), some pencil captions on the mounts, original roan-backed patterned green, red and blue cloth gilt with retailer's label of W.F. Crumpe of Dublin, dust-soiling and spotting to mounts and images, a few images with slight wear and tears, binding slightly worn
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Provenance

Samuel Barrett Miles (1838-1914), presentation inscription from the United States Consulate in Muscat, dated 6 September 1885

Catalogue Note

AN ALBUM OF RARE EARLY PHOTOGRAPHS OF OMAN AND IRAQ PRESENTED BY THE UNITED STATES CONSUL LOUIS MAGUIRE TO THE BRITISH POLITICAL AGENT AND CONSUL IN MUSCAT SAMUEL BARRETT MILES. The album contains approximately 65 photographs of Oman (nearly all taken in and around Muscat, many of which may be attributed to Louis Maguire, together with at least 3 taken by Miles in 1885), 20 of Iraq (including 2 (and 2 loose duplicates) of Ctesiphon taken in 1871 by the Iraqi-born amateur photographer Joseph Mathia Svoboda, and others of Baghdad and Basra, possibly by Svoboda or Maguire), and 8 of India.

In March 1878 Grattan Geary, editor of 'The Times of India' on a journey through the Gulf visited Muscat and wrote: 'The permanent British residents are the Political Agent, Colonel Miles, and Mr Maguire, a merchant in a large way of business, the agent of the British India Company. Of course we visited both, and were most cordially welcomed. To Mr Maguire, who is a very skilful amateur photographer, I was indebted for the photograph of Muscat, from which the engraving forming the frontispiece to the present volume has been taken' (Through Asiatic Turkey. London, 1878, vol. 1, p. 13). Louis Maguire was an Irish resident in Oman (which may explain the Dublin retailer's label on the album) and represented a number of European and American firms. In 1880 Maguire was appointed Consul at Muscat for the United States of America (and a little later was also appointed as Consular Agent for France). It is likely that most of the photographs of Muscat and environs were taken by Maguire. At least three photographs of Oman at the end of the album were taken by Miles in December 1885 during a journey into the interior of Oman and show the forts at Rustaq and Jabrin, and a view of Jebel Misht from Wady Ein.

Samuel Barrett Miles (1838-1914), 'the son of a major general, served in the Bombay Native Infantry for years before he was assistant resident in Aden from 1867-1869. He was appointed assistant political for Gawadur (Persia) in May 1873. He occupied various positions in the area, holding office as consul general of Baghdad from 1879 before returning to India in 1887. After years spent between Turkish Arabia and Arabistan, Miles was fluent in Arabic.' Miles took up his post in Oman in 1874 ... 'he was equipped with a camera when he surveyed Oman in the 1880s. HE WAS PROBABLY THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE HINTERLAND [OF OMAN]. Most of his photographs are now lost, except for those published by his widow in 1919.' (Foliard)

Joseph Matthia Svoboda (1840-1908), was born in Baghdad and spent his working life as a clerk in the Lynch Company's service travelling on the river steamers between Baghdad and Basra, making his first voyage in 1862 in the 'City of London' under the command of Captain Holland. Svoboda was helped with his photography by the French engineer M. Mougel (son of Eugène Mougel-Bey), who was employed by the Ottoman governor of Baghdad. In April 1887 Svoboda wrote in his diary: 'The S.S. Khalifah arrived. Henry [Joseph's brother] came on board, he reported the fall of the Arch of Ctesiphon, he saw this morning on passing it is the front or façade the whole wall from the entrance to the Hall and northward all that portion of the inclined wall fell to the ground, it must be caused by the inundation of the river the water being so close to it and the rain etc. It is a great pity to loose that fine sight and ancient monument the only one standing in Mesopotamia. I am glad I have the negative of it on glass from two parts the front and back view taken in 1871.' (Makiya)

REFERENCES:

cf. Miles, S.B. 'On the Border of the Great Desert: A Journey in Oman' (Geographical Journal, vol. 36, nos. 2 (Aug., 1910), pp.159-178 and 4 (Oct., 1910), pp. 405-425)
Makiya, Margaret. 'The Svoboda Diaries' (Baghdad College of Art Journal, vol. 64, 1969, pp. 37-67))
Marshall, Brian. 'The Journeys of Samuel Barrett Miles in Oman, between 1875 and 1885' (Journal of Oman Studies, vol. 10, 1989, pp.69-75)
Foliard, Daniel. 'Dislocating the Orient: British maps and the making of the Middle East, 1854-1921' (University of Chicago Press, 2017, pp. 119-120)

Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History Including the Library of Colin and Joan Deacon

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