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Auction #64 begins on
25 Jan 2018 16:30 GMT

Fry (W. Ellerton)

OCCUPATION OF MASHONALAND

Views by W. Ellerton Fry

Published: London, 1891

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155 photographs mounted on 41 stiff card leaves, original half black leather with patterned dark green cloth sides, titled gilt on upper cover, back untitled but decorated with gilt bands, all edges gilt, slight wear to the back and corners, the contents are detached from the covers but are intact, the leaves are mounted on cloth hinges, copyright declaration on the front paste-down end paper, some light foxing on the preliminary and end leaves but generally the overall condition is better than usually found, the photographs are half plate in size (150 x 200 with some variation) and 5 are panoramas comprising two half plates joined together, each photograph has a short printed caption beneath it.

It seems that the number and selection of photographs vary - the present copy having 155.

Louis Bolze, the publisher of the facsimile edition of this volume, located 13 copies of first edition of The Occupation of Mashonaland (1891) in Southern African libraries and it may be assumed that there are other copies in major libraries in Britain and elsewhere as well as a number in private hands but in any case the edition must have been very small.

The photographs taken by Lieut. W. Ellerton Fry, who was a member of the Pioneer Column, record the occupation of Mashonaland by the Pioneer Corps and its British South African Police escort which ended at Fort Salisbury on 12th September, 1890. The photographs cover the formation, training and progress of the Column.

Great Zimbabwe is shown in a very overgrown state in a number of photographs.At the time of his enlistment into the Pioneer Expedition Fry was Secretary and Computer at the Royal Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town. He was recruited by F.C. Selous and was given the rank of Lieutenant and the post of Intelligence Officer. He was also given charge of the steam engine and searchlight and was made the official photographer. Fry professed to be very much an amateur photographer but his images show an artistic eye and fine grasp of the medium. He processed his plates under great difficulty whilst on the march.

At the time of his enlistment into the Pioneer Expedition Fry was Secretary and Computer at the Royal Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town. He was recruited by F.C. Selous and was given the rank of Lieutenant and the post of Intelligence Officer. He was also given charge of the steam engine and searchlight and was made the official photographer. Fry professed to be very much an amateur photographer but his images show an artistic eye and fine grasp of the medium. He processed his plates under great difficulty whilst on the march.

W. Ellerton Fry (Born 1846 in Somerset England and died in Cape Town in June 1930) was a photographer and gold mining pioneer who came to the Cape Colony from England early in 1872. After a short period as a diamond digger, farmer and trader, he started the Ellerton Gold Mine in the Transvaal Lowveld (Mpumalanga), which proved to be rich but inconsistent.

According to Bensusan (1966) he joined the staff of the Royal Observatory in Cape Town late in 1872 as secretary and human computer, later took photographs under the guidance of David Gill, and resigned in 1890. However, he is not included in Gill's (1913) list of staff members of the observatory, though his connection with the institution is mentioned also by Mendelssohn (1910). In 1878 he succeeded W. Greathead as paid secretary of the Cape of Good Hope Meteorological Commission, with the responsibility of processing the meteorological data and inspecting the rapidly expanding network of meteorological stations.

While holding this position he had his headquarters at the Royal Observatory (General directory and guide-book to the Cape of Good Hope..., 1886, p. 185). He undertook his first tour of inspection in 1880 and repeated it annually, checking the instruments and providing guidance to the observers. He appears to have been an able and energetic worker and his zeal led to a marked improvement in the quality of the observations. In 1891 Fry was succeeded as secretary of the Meteorological Commission by D. May.

However, he must have left his position earlier, as he accompanied the Pioneer Column in June 1890 on its march from Mafikeng into Mashonaland. With the rank of lieutenant in the British South Africa Company's Expeditionary Force his role was that of photographer and assistant to their guide, F.C. Selous. They arrived at the place where Harare now stands in September 1890.

Fry made an outstanding photographic record of the journey and 155 of his photos were published as Occupation of Mashonaland: views by W. Ellerton Fry (London, 1891, now exceptionally rare). He also wrote "The march of the British into Mashonaland", which was published in a book by R.W. Murray, South Africa from Arab domination to British rule (1891). He took some early photos of the Victoria Falls and in 1893 donated two insects from there to the South African Museum.

In 1901, during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), Fry was in Bloemfontein and applied for an appointment in the British administration of the newly established Orange River Colony. Presumably his application was unsuccessful, for he spent the next decade prospecting for coal. For example, he reported on a coal deposit near Ladybrand in 1902, requested permission to exploit an outcrop of coal in the Sabie Game Reserve, Transvaal, in 1903, and was still investigating coal deposits in the Cape Province in 1911. A manuscript written by him, titled "Incidents in the life of a rolling stone, 1892-1924", with an album of clippings about the Pioneer Column and Mashonaland expedition, forms part of the W. Ellerton Fry collection, University of Cape Town libraries. http://www.s2a3.org.za/bio/Biograph_final.php?serial=1002

  • Overall Condition: A Very Good Copy
  • Size: Folio (465 x 320mm)
  • Sold By: Clarke's Africana & Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Paul Mills
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: africana@clarkes.co.za
  • Telephone: 021 794 0600
  • Preferred Payment Methods: Visa & Mastercard, PayPal (with a 5% surcharge), Bank transfers
  • Trade Associations: ABA - ILAB, SABDA


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