[British Guiana]: 1946-1949. Two volumes. , photographs on 33,pp. Images vary in size, most 4.5 x 4.5 or 3.5 x 2.5 inches with some larger. Oblong octavos. Original black paper albums, string-tied. Cover of first volume detached, wear around edges of covers on each volume. Internally clean and fresh. Some images with light silver mirroring. Captioned throughout. Very good. Item #1522
Two photograph albums of the Tikwah gold mine in British Guiana, likely compiled by an operative of the company. A Who's Who of British Guiana for 1945-1948 lists Samuel Hirsh Holzman as the mine owner and managing director, as well as the vice president of the Mining Association of British Guiana. Gold was discovered in Guiana in the 1880s, in the area around the Essequibo River. Crude mining efforts through the next few decades resulted in minimal extraction, though there was a renewed effort with technological advancements in mining in the 1940s, as shown herein.
The present albums document the region as well as the mining camp and its operations, much of it with a keen sense of detail. In addition to captions, the author has annotated many of the photos in pencil to point out relevant features. For example, a photograph captioned "New Winze (L.) & General View of Mine Looking N.W." has pencil annotations identifying individual buildings such as the Clerk's Quarters and the Tikwah Shaft Building. An image of the foreman's shack and laborers' quarters notes the construction and materials used to build them; roads and rivers used by the company are pictured (with complaints about the rough condition), as are aerial views of the camp and surrounding area. There are images of the shafts and miners at work; interior shots of the mills and other buildings; and the latter portion of the first volume contains numerous group portraits of the workers and office staff, each person identified by name and position. This includes the "Tikwah Ladies," mostly the wives of foremen, which shows eight Black women standing together in the mining camp, one holding an infant and another holding the hands of a toddler.
In addition to images of the camp's operations, there are many photographs documenting the difficulties involved with mining in the jungle. A series of images from 1948 shows workmen transporting equipment on the Puruni River. Captions read, "Reloading boats to proceed up Puruni (ballyhoo in front towed by 'Caroline' to be used at Thomas Island Falls for blasting"; "Pulling 'Caroline' over rapids at mouth"; "Pulling 'Caroline' through part of big falls." All of these images show the difficulty of transporting equipment and supplies in the region, with laborers in shorts and loincloths pulling the boat with a rope over difficult terrain. Another series shows the boat caught up on rocks in the river at Kaburi Falls and the workmen endeavoring to dislodge it without capsizing.
An altogether fascinating look at life in a mining camp in the jungles of Guiana, full of rich detail about those working in the camp and their living environs.