Ca. 1925. Oblong Quarto album (ca. 21x29 cm). 40 card stock leaves. With 63 mounted gelatin silver photographs, including six larger photos ca. 11,5x16 cm (4 ½ x 6 ¼ in) and 57 smaller ones, ca. 9x14,5 cm (3 ½ x 5 ¾ in). All but two or three photos captioned in negative. Also with four real photo postcards ca. 8,5x13,5 cm (3 ¼ x 5 ¼ in), all with printed captions on verso “Issued by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia to the Officers and Men of the American Fleet. July-August, 1925.” With a printed leaflet ca. 17x22 cm (6 ½ x 8 ½ in), completed in manuscript. Period brown full sheep flexible cover album fastened with a string; the front board with a decorative vignette relief, depicting U.S.S. “New Mexico.” Album slightly rubbed on the extremities, the first two leaves with tears at the stub, a few photos very mildly faded, but overall a very good album of interesting strong images.
Attractive keepsake album, illustrating the U.S. Navy’s exercise in Hawaii and its good-will tour to Australia and New Zealand in April-October 1925. The album’s compiler was one K.L. Van Sant, a serviceman (most likely, a sailor) from U.S.S. “New Mexico.” The interesting images include three large photos of the US Fleet parade in 1925 (one photo being captioned “Fleet Parade, Auckland, N.Z. Aug. 19, 1925”), and three smaller photos of the “U.S. Fleet landing party – 1908 world tour,” “U.S. fleet in Australia, 1908 world tour”; and “Australian soldiers training near Sidney.” There are also two large unusual views of George and Elizabeth Streets in Sydney, taken during the U.S. fleet’s 1925 tour. The rest of the photos, dating back to the 1910s-1920s, include eighteen views of Hawaii (Hilo, Kilauea and Haleakala volcanos, Honolulu, Diamond Head, Pali highway, rice and pineapple fields, etc.), fourteen views of Tahiti, Samoa, and Fiji (Pago-Pago, Papeete, scenes of traditional feasts and dances, war canoes and ceremonials, villages, “the rain maker, Samoa,” etc.); and four photos of New Zealand (views of Wellington, and Christchurch and a portrait of “Atama Rarawa tribe chief”). Eighteen photos of Australia show Melbourne (“Government office building,” “business street,” “new art gallery,” Elizabeth Street, Bourke Street, Collins Street West, “exhibition building,” “Central R.R. station”), Sydney (harbour, the Circular Quay, “General post office,” “Martin Place”), River Murray, Jenolan Caves, Fitzroy Falls, etc.
The real photo postcards, especially “issued by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia to the Officers and Men of the American Fleet. July-August, 1925,” show Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Hobart. The album opens with a photo and a printed leaflet related to the celebration of the U.S.S. “New Mexico” crossing the Equator on July 6, 1925. The printed leaflet titled “Royal Summons,” signed “Davy Jones” and addressed to “Van Sant K.L.,” orders him to appear before the court of Neptunus Rex and reply to the charges of “being built to [sic!] close to the deck.” The photo shows the declaration by “Neptunus Rex,” stating that “K.L. Vans Sant having been found worthy to be numbered as one of our trusty shellbacks, has been gathered to our fold and duly initiated into the solemn mysteries of the ancient Order of the Deep.” Overall an attractive personal account of the U.S. fleet exercise and tour to Hawaii and South Pacific in 1925.
“This movement to Hawaii was the first occasion since before WW1 that the entire U.S. Fleet had conducted a major transoceanic deployment. The voyage, which involved over 75 ships (eleven battleships, Langley and two seaplane tenders, several cruisers, some 50 destroyers, and a number of auxiliaries), was the larges transoceanic movement in the history of the U.S. Navy to that time” (Nofi, A.A. To Train the Fleet for War: The U.S. Navy Fleet Problems, 1923-1940. Newport, Rhode Island: Naval War College Press, 2010, p. 76). The Fleet conducted major joint Army-Navy exercise no. 3 around Hawaii in April, fleet type and tactical exercise in May and June, and “the Antepodean cruise” in July-September 1925, visiting Australia, New Zealand, and Samoa. “…the fleet’s visit to Australia and New Zealand, the largest extra-hemispheric movement in the history of the U.S. Navy until World War II, was also the only occasion between the wars that a substantial part of the entire fleet travelled outside the Western Hemisphere” (ibid., p. 81).