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19th century photographs of Singapore

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Late 19th century (1889) photographs of Singapore by C.J. Kleingrothe

A  rare and attractive collection of black and white photographs of Singapore at the end of the 19th century by Charles J. Kleingrothe, born Carl Josef Kleingrothe or Klein-Grothe, known as C. J. Kleingrothe (1864 – 1925), a German photographer who worked in Singapore in 1889 and had a studio in Medan, Sumatra between 1889 and 1925. In 1891 (?) he partnered with the Swedish photographer H. Stafhell for ten years and photographed the landscapes and architecture as well as portraits. In addition to photographs of Singapore and North Sumatra, Kleingrothe photographed Penang, Malaya in his Malay Peninsula Portfolio. In 1901, the partnership ended and in 1902 Kleingrothe opened a studio on Kesawan Street in downtown Medan and photographed agricultural subjects including tobacco, coffee, tea, rubber and palm oil cultivation, administration and transport.

The prints in the collection contain thirty-four (34) individual photographs which are mounted in sets of two, three, four and singly. The printing of the photographs was done colloidial-chloride paper, that was produced commercially for the first time by J.B. Obernetter, a Munich chemist who studied chemistry with such greats as Bunsen and Leibig. Experimentation to develop permanent emulsion printing papers was advanced by the work of the English chemist and photographer G. Wharton Simpson (1824-1880) who developed the colloidio-chloride silver emulsion printing process. This work was complemented by that of J.B. Obernetter (1840-1887) and referred to on the photographs of Singapore, who was the first to manufacture  colloidio-chloride papers on a commercial scale. The paper was claimed to have higher definition and permanency over the albumen papers it gradually replaced.

The prints are in good condition with strong plate marks although a few have brown and grey marks caused by foxing and water stains in the wide margins. The marks do not affect the area of the photographs. The print paper size measures 347mm x 452 mm with individual photographs ranging in size from 98 mm x 140 mm (smallest) to 205 mm x 290 mm and 273mm x 202mm for the largest.

( This set is SOLD, looking for another copy?, please contact us. )

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