1902. Large Oblong Folio album ca. 32,5x46 cm (12 ¾ x 18 ¼ in). 55 stiff card album leaves. With 96 mounted gelatin silver photos including one large image ca. 28x33,5 cm (11 x 13 ¼ in); most photos are large images from ca. 23x29 cm (9 x 11 ¼ in) to ca. 12x22,5 cm (4 ¾ x 8 ¾ in); there are also 21 smaller panoramas ca. 5,5x17,5 cm (2 x 6 ¾ in), and 20 smaller photos ca. 9x11 cm (3 ½ x 4 ¼ in). All photos with period manuscript ink captions in French on the mounts (some captions relate to two or more photos), many images also dated on the mounts. With three mounted printed maps (of Siam, Bangkok and Cochinchina) from ca. 28x38,5 cm (11 x 15 ¼ in) to ca. 21,5x31,5 cm (8 ½ x 12 ¼ in), two maps with period ink inscriptions detailing the dates certain places were visited. Period dark black half morocco with black pebbled cloth boards; front board with a gilt-lettered title; spine with a gilt-lettered title and partly-rubbed owner’s initials “P.L.”; moiré endpapers. Spine neatly rebacked with original spine laid down, one mount with minor tears or losses on extremities, neatly repaired, a few photos mildly faded or with mild silvering, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos.
Historically significant collection of early original photos of lesser-travelled eastern Myanmar and northern Thailand, valleys of the Ping and Chao Phraya Rivers, as well as large attractive views of Bangkok and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). The photos were taken and collected by Belgian industrialist and politician Paul Lippens, a member of an influential family of liberal politicians from Ghent. Paul’s father, Hyppolite Lippens (1847-1906), was the mayor of Ghent (1882-95), a member of the local parliament and a senator for the liberal party. Paul’s elder brother Maurice Lippens (1875-1956) served as the governor of Belgian East Flanders province (1919-21), Governor-General of the Belgian Congo (1921-23) and President of the Belgian Senate (1934-36). Paul himself was actively involved in Belgian liberal politics and colonial affairs. In the 1900s, he owned shares and worked as an administrator of “Galang Exploitatie Maatschappij,” a Dutch-owned company producing rubber from hevea plantations on the island of Galang of the Riau Archipelago, modern-day Indonesia (Bulletin de l’Association des Planteurs de Caoutchouc. Mai 1910, Vol. II, No. 5 (the inner side of the front cover). When in 1910 the company was transformed into the London-based “Galang Besar Rubber Plantations Ltd.,” Lippens became one of its directors (Galang Besar Rubber Plantations// The Economist, June 11, 1910, p. v). In 1912, Lippens also became a shareholder of “Compagnie Commerciale et Agricole d’Alimentation du Bas-Congo” (Journal officiel de l’Afrique équatoriale française, 15 février 1912, p. 112). During WW1, he went to the front as a volunteer and died in 1915 after being wounded in a military engagement on the Yser River.
In 1902 Paul went on an around the world trip with his cousin, count Carl de Kerchove de Denterghem, celebrating the latter’s graduation from engineering school. According to the detailed printed maps included in the album, on January 31, 1902, the travellers departed from Mawlamyine (then a part of British India) and travelled north-east, towards the Dawna Range and the territory of modern-day Lan Sang National park in northern Thailand. They reached Ping River near the modern-day town of Tak in early February and went down the river by boat to its confluence with the Nan River, where the Chao Phraya River is formed. From there, the travellers went to Bangkok and, after a several-day stay, sailed along the coast of Cambodia to French Cochinchina (modern-day Vietnam), travelling from Hong Chong to Chaudoc (Chau Doc) on the Mekong River and thence to Saigon.
The album opens with a dozen photos of Burma (Myanmar), taken on the way from Moulmein (Mawlamyine) to the Thai border. They show the Salween (Thanlwin) River, peasants harvesting rice, a Buddhist monastery in Kawkareik, travellers’ bungalow in Miawadi (Myawaddy, a major trading point on the border between Myanmar and Thailand), the party porters crossing rivers and jungle, and entering a village. One photo shows “Paul Lippens on the suspension bridge made of telegraph wires,” and another one portrays Carl de Kerchove de Denterghem on a raft before crossing the Me Mue (Moei) River, “separating Burma and Siam.”
Over forty images illustrate the travellers’ trip to Bangkok down the Ping and Chao Phraya Rivers. Among them are several excellent panoramic views of the Ping River and its banks (including a panorama showing the confluence of the Ping and Nam Rivers at Pac Nam Pho), two large street views of Pac Nam Pho (one featuring Carl looking at a street procession), panoramas of Me Nam (Chao Phraya) River, views of Chai Nat, the royal palace in Bang Pa In, old Siamese capital in Ayutthaya (ruins of a monastery, a statue of Grand Buddha, elephant kraal, riverboats), portraits of the party cook “Thomas,” Carl eating breakfast at the river bank, &c. Over twenty photos of Bangkok (mostly large) show the city’s river port and steamboats, numerous khlongs (canals) in the Sampheng neighbourhood, Wat Arun temple (entrance gate, the central prang, interior of the main chapel), Wat Pho temple, “New Road” (Charoen Krung Road) with an electric tram approaching the viewer on the left side of the street, Khlong Ban Luang, Chao Phraya River and the wall of the royal garden, Wat Pra Kaew complex, &c. Three studio photos portray Thai people (an actor, a boy and a young girl).
Fourteen photos at the rear were taken during the trip to Cochinchina and show the harbour of Hong Chong, a black pepper plantation, the road from Hong Chong to Hatien, the Mekong River and Canal de Hatien in Chau Doc, a Vietnamese village, a temple, Saigon streets leading to the Grand Pont (apparently, Pont des Messageries Maritimes, now Mong Bridge), &c.
Overall an interesting collection of original photos of lesser-travelled areas of Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, with a number of large, well-executed images.
During the same around the world trip Lippen and de Kerchove de Denterghem visited the fern forests of Java near Mount Papandayan. Lippens’ photo and description of the forests were published in a Ghent horticultural periodical, founded by his and Carl’s uncle, Ghent politician and amature botanist Oswald de Kerchove de Denterghem (Les forêts de fougères aux Indes Néerlandaises// Revue de horticulture belge et étrangère. Vol. XXIX. Gand, 1903, pp. 228-229; https://archive.org/details/revuedelhorticu00unkngoog/page/228/mode/1up?view=theater&q=lippens).