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Archéologie et sources

A Provisional Survey of nineteenth century Photography on the Gold Coast and in Ashanti

focussed on the Basel Mission collection, and with special reference to the images linked to the war of 1874
Paul Jenkins
p. 103


Using the particularly well-preserved Basel Mission collection of photographs as visual sources, this paper proposes an outline history of photography in the Gold Coast and Asante in the 19th century. After a presentation of quantitative data, and a discussion of five missionaries known to have taken photographs between the 1850s and 1914, the author questions the potential of these pictures as sources of Asante history. He argues there was much contrast between the Colony, where photography early became very popular, and Asante, where the authorities seem not to have encouraged the new practice. Most of the images of Asante before 1896 are engravings made from photographs taken in 1874 during the first sack of Kumasi in 1874. They mirror public curiosity in Europe for independent Asante.

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1We hope, in Basel, that our catalogued collection of historical photographs will prove a useful reference standard for research on regions of the non-western world, like Ghana, for which it possesses a substantial number of images. This hope is based on the assumption that the Basel Mission’s interest in photography in the 19th century will have mirrored a broad, if innovative, 19th century consensus about the potential significance and attractiveness of photography in recording and communicating situations in Africa, Asia and Latin America for the metropolitan centres of the colonial world. It is also based on the assumption that the survival of this collection is due to the unusual institutional stability the Basel Mission has enjoyed since the organisation began to experiment with photography in its communications. It is a benign coincidence that the year in which the modern mission house in Basel was taken into use – 1860 – is also close to the year in which members of the Basel Mission began to take photographs in India and in Ghana. From a Basel perspective, I would argue that the present-day lack of other major sources of photographs for 19th century Ghana is not due to the fact that other groups of people were not taking photographs on the same scale as members of the Basel Mission. It is much more the case that – as indeed here, too – there was a steadily on-rolling process in which older and technically less good photographs got pushed out into limbo as they were replaced by newer and better ones. And what distinguishes the Basel Mission from many other organisations is that it has remained in its existing building without having to move, and without experiencing institutional collapse. No tough – or easy – decisions had to be made about whether outdated images were to be taken on in a move into new accommodation. If anything the organisation shrank, so that space, for example in its attics, could remain virtually untouched by human hand for decades after the second world war, and old photograph holdings thereby came to light in the 1980s and 1990s when people were ready to take them seriously again. In other words it does make sense to regard this collection as a particularly well-preserved fossil which gives us strong clues to life in a whole forgotten landscape. It can, in this sense, guide our thoughts to what may well have existed in other parts of the world in the way of holdings of photographs at the end of the 19th century. It can soberly be proposed that the Basel Mission collection can be extrapolated to indicate what is probably still waiting to be uncovered in other places and catalogued by people who know what they are looking for. Our experience in Basel shows that it needs a trained eye to spot the nineteenth century photographs in a general and undocumented photo collection. So large museum collections which are not comprehensively catalogued, provincial museums and archives in Europe which do not have the resources for careful contemplation of materials beyond local regional boundaries, and indeed, old family homes where materials still lie from ancestors who were travellers, traders, officials and missionaries – all of these may prove to hold the kind of visual sources on 19th century Ghanaian history which have come to light in the Basel Mission House.

2My original intention in offering a paper to this number of Journal des Africanistes was to write about photographic sources and the history of pre-1896 Asante. But it soon became apparent that our knowledge of photography in relation to pre-1896 Asante is merely scraps and tatters, unless someone I have not heard about has indeed started systematically searching for 19th century photographs of Asante in relevant collections in France, Britain and Holland. Hence I start by attempting to put together an outline history of photography in what became, in the 19th century, the Gold Coast Colony, in order to provide us with a framework for our thinking about visual sources on Asante in the same period. I begin with some simple quantitative statements about the chronology of photography in Ghana as documented in our Archive. I refine these statements firstly by referring to the five missionaries who were also important as photographers at some time in the period between the 1850s and 1914, whose work is represented in our collection, and by referring to the evidence that there were probably other missionary photographers producing significant numbers of images in the Colony in the 19th century whose names we do not yet know. I refine them further by looking at the evidence we have in Basel that photographers other than missionaries were at work on the colonial Gold Coast in the nineteenth century. And this leads me into a discussion of what we know about photography and Asante. In brief, in relation to Asante, I argue that there is a great contrast between the Colony, in which photography was evidently an often-practised art, and independent Asante, where one suspects it was proscribed, if not formally then in practice as no part of the narrow selection of elements of Western culture which leading circles were prepared to adapt. And this, finally, focuses attention on the British expedition to Kumase in 1874. Public interest in the expedition and the African state it set out to punish was acute. How far is one of the correlative effects of the 1874 expedition that there were significant numbers of photographs of Asante sites and Asante people taken during the expedition?

1. Generalising about photographs in the pre-1900 Gold Coast Colony on the basis of the Basel Mission collection

3Many readers of this essay will have used the web-site which makes the photographs in this collection publicly available on line. About 4,500 images from Ghana are accessible in this facility1. In terms of orders of magnitude we argue that 50%, or even something over 50% of the photographs were taken before the First World War2. Within the body of images from before 1914 we know that the earliest datable pictures we hold which we can show were reproductions of photographs made in 1856 (photographer: Daniel West). But it also seems likely that the number of photographs taken rises steeply from the early 1880s, when for the first time industrially produced glass-plate negatives became available, which simplified the process of photography considerably. C.W. Locher and Christian Hornberger (whose work I also discuss below) were, in the 1860s, using the wet-plate collodium system for taking photographs. This involved them in carrying through something like 20 technical steps before they had an image as negative, i.e. involved them in a great deal of work creating the layers of chemicals which made of a plain glass plate a light-sensitive tool for photography, and then in fixing the negative once the photograph had been taken.

1.1. Five pre-1914 missionaries and photographers in the Basel Mission collection

4We are able, in Basel, to identify the work done by a number of individuals from the beginnings of missionary photography in the Gold Coast Colony to the outbreak of the First World War. I rehearse the names of the five here who are, in my mind and in my present state of knowledge, the most significant. I also summarise what we know of their photographic production as a means to make more concrete the generalisation offered above about the chronology of photography in the Colony before 1914, and also to indicate what their photographs offer us as historians interested in visual sources.

5Daniel West. The earliest datable images based on photographs taken in Ghana which we hold date back to 1856. In that year Daniel West, a Methodist pastor from Britain, who had been asked to pay a fraternal visit to the Methodist congregations from Bathurst to Abeokuta, was taking Daguerreotype photographs as he travelled, a few of which were published in the memoir his brother wrote after Daniel West himself died on the way back to Britain. His photographs which are still available show a considerable interest in the African state and its notables – portraits of chiefs in Fanteland and Lagos, and a group portrait of an Asante embassy to Cape Coast in 1856, to which I return below. West had, interestingly enough, performed scientific experiments with in his study while a pastor in Britain. His interest in photography apparently grew out of this. We may regard him as a representative of the British non-conformist interest in science which goes back to the Lunar Society in Birmingham in the 18th century, in this case moving over in the mid 19th century into interest in photography and its chemical basis. Unfortunately none of West’s photographs seem to have survived as original daguerreotypes3. We have only copies of the five engravings based on photographs which were published in the memoir of his life, four of which were taken in Ghana. His remaining photographic work may, perhaps, turn up in part in a private or provincial collection in Great Britain. We can only hope so4.

6C.W.Locher was the second missionary we can document in the Basel Mission collection who took photographs on Ghanaian soil. Locher was a Zürich man who worked for the Basel Mission in Ghana 1850-67. In there are some 100 of his images, concentrated in a large format album QD-30.011, though the photographs themselves are small in size. Locher had probably learned to take photographs during a period of furlough in Europe in 1857-8. So far, taking all the available indications into account, we have the impression that the oldest images which we can ascribe to Locher in the present-day Basel Mission collection date from ca. 18605. In the Locher photographs which we have we find, besides townscapes in Accra, where he himself lived (fifteen of his images) and items of botanical interest (ten images), above all missionary themes. Thirty of his images show Basel Mission buildings, ten of them show varying mixed groups of indigenous people and missionaries, ten show family groups of indigenous Christians (including some impressive portraits of married couples). The furthest inland of the photographs we hold from Wilhelm Locher were taken in Akwapim. But when he left Ghana he passed his camera on to his colleague Theodor Breitenbach (Ghana 1866-1870), who did take the apparatus as far inland as Kyebi, where he took probably the first group portrait ever of an important chief and his retinue at an inland site.6 We do not yet know what happened to the camera Locher and Breitenbach had been using after 1870. We do know, however, from a remark of Breitenbach that he did not find it easy to make good images. But we also know that Locher must have taken more photographs than we have in the archive7.

7According to the Basel Mission archive the third missionary, chronologically speaking, who took photographs on Ghanaian soil, was Christian Hornberger, who was trained in the Basel Mission house 1854-58 and then worked in what is now the Volta Region of Ghana for the Bremen Mission from 1858 till his death in 1881. He seems to have learned photography during his time in Basel, was sent a camera in 1863, and seems to have been still using it in the early part of 18698. In the collection in Basel we have about 35 images which can be assigned to Hornberger, though his total work was probably much larger. Like Locher he took photographs of botanical themes, specialising, in his case, in artistically-arranged « still lives » of fruit and vegetables. Otherwise a certain odyssey can be traced in his photography, since he was originally sent a camera to take portraits of allegedly ex-slave children to be handed to donors in Europe who had « bought children free » so that they could grow up as Christians. In the first couple of years he also took a handful of photographs of indigenous personalities, playing up the exotic aspect of his subjects. The programme to « buy » slave children « free » collapsed, however, and at the end of his activity as a photographer Hornberger’s camera had, as it were, panned 180° and he was taking photographs which were still being used in the 1880s to illustrate the dignity of indigenous life and labour – women spinning, a man weaving, indigenous men wearing their toga-like cloths from indigenous production on a Sunday etc9.

8The first scientifically trained doctor of the Basel Mission in Ghana, Rudolf Fisch, who worked in Ghana 1885-1911, also took photographs. A search for his images in bmpix offers one a total of more than 1,000 images, though this gives an exaggerated idea of his activities - we hold about 450 positives of his pictures, and the rest are negatives, which have, so far, only been cursorily compared with the positives. His photographs include medical themes - not least photographs of medical conditions. But he was a man with more than merely institutional experience, who spent much of his time cycling around as a peripatetic doctor visiting sick missionaries on outlying mission stations. His photography reflects his broad experience of the country10.

9We have no reason to think that he did not start taking photographs soon after his arrival in Ghana in 1885. But unfortunately, with about half of his positives - something over 200 of them - it has proved so far impossible to date them clearly to the 19th or the 20th century. Only 10 have so far been unambiguously dated to the former. The 230 images which can be dated to the years after 1900 include an important series of over 150 photographs of people and places taken by Fisch during an exploratory journey in 1910 through northern Togo and northeastern Ghana.

10Finally, together with Rudolf Fisch, Fritz Ramseyer dominates the holdings of Ghana photographs in the 30 years before the outbreak of the First World War in our archive. Ramseyer’s career as a missionary in Ghana was, of course, unusually long, his first arrival taking place in January 1864, his last departure in September 1908. Along with his wife, another missionary colleague, and the French trader Marie-Joseph Bonnat, he was held as an hostage in Kumase 1869-74. He and his wife spent the years 1875-1896 largely in the mission station of Abetifi, just outside the range of effective Asante rule, poised to enter Asante again as soon as this was possible. And indeed, he and his wife were called to Kumase to found a mission station there when Asante came under British rule in 1896.

11Ramseyer’s significance as a photographer - interestingly enough, completely forgotten by later generations of the institution for which he worked - is considerable. bmpix offers 1090 images for which it has registered Ramseyer as a photographer. This figure includes about 200 negatives, almost all of which also exist as positives. The c.880 remaining pictures are positive prints on paper. An as yet unknown number of these are duplicates - in the 1890s, for example, Ramseyer made substantial albums, each with more than 100 images, for members of his family. Four of these have donated by the present-day Ramseyer family to the Basel Mission archive (reference nos. QD-30.041 to 044). Some images occur in each of them, and each print has been registered separately on the web site11. Furthermore, as we shall see later, several dozen of the images ascribed to Ramseyer in bmpix in another album, reference no. QD-30.024, should probably be ascribed to another and unknown missionary photographer. Nevertheless, it is clear that in volume Ramseyer’s production, as contained in the Basel Mission archive, is substantial.

12If we attempt a rough chronological breakdown of Ramseyer’s photographs it looks as if some 600 of them date from before 1900, 80 are certainly to be dated to the years after 1900 (1900-1908) and the rest cannot, with reasonably certainty, be assigned to the years either before or after 1900.

13Ramseyer’s significance as a photographer is not merely quantitative. Much of his photography is technically good. It also reflects a wide range of interests in Ramseyer’s visual environment. His photographs of the mission stations in Kumase and Abetifi and their environments (not least photographs of the pioneer months he spent with his wife in a settlement of thatched roof huts in Kumase in 1896-7) offer probably the best visual sources on the life of 19th and early 20th century mission stations anywhere in the Basel Mission’s West African work. His photographs of chiefs and their courts in Kwahu ca. 1890 are also excellent and provide much food for thought. His significance is not least to be measured, however, by the fact that he was the first person to have published a collection of Ghana photographs in book form, a volume with 80 images in (crude!) half-tone plates with sometimes extensive captions, which appeared in Neuchatel in 189512. This gives us not least a latest possible date for many of his most interesting images, and for others not published there which can be networked with them. In view of his biography, and in view of this publication, the question when he began to take photographs in Ghana is extremely important. So far I am of the opinion that he began taking photographs in Ghana in 1888 - at least an event in May 1888 is the earliest datable occasion at which he was taking photographs13.

1.2. The search for more 19th century photographers: partly documented images in the Basel Mission collection which can probably be ascribed to missionaries

14There is a certain danger that my quantitative presentation over time, linked up with the statistics we have for the photographers I have just introduced and the great change in available technology once ready-made glass-plate negatives could be bought and used, will create a too firm picture of the history of photography on the Gold Coast Colony in the 19th century. The general impression from what I have written so far seems to be that photography only really got the wind in its sails from about 1885. Photography before this development was a matter of pioneers, coping with considerable difficulties and producing a relatively restricted number of images. But we have to beware of substituting our own perception of what was happening, enriched by hindsight, for thought processes in people making and using photographic images in this period. In particular the fact that an easier form of photography would develop in the early 1880s was not, of course, in any sense a certainty in the minds of people trying to take photographs before that date. And on the other hand the motivations of the photographers and the end-users of photographs (whether on the Coast or in Europe) will have been quite independent of possible future developments. So it makes sense to look at the holdings in to see if we can spot groups of images whose missionary author is unknown, but which may nevertheless date back to before 1885.

15It is difficult to report on what is, by its very nature, an early and uncertain stage in the improvement of our cataloguing, but an important first step is to look at to two albums about whose provenance we have no documentary information, and which contain a substantial number of photographs which could date back to before the use of dry-plate glass negatives.

16One of these albums is QD-30.014. After QD-30.011 (see the information on Locher, above) it contains the oldest Ghana photographs in our collection, including more than 20 excellent stereo prints of Hornberger photographs. We cannot identify photographers for the remaining 40 images, some of which are evidently from the 1880s, though others may well be earlier. Four of the images are, as we shall see, typical portrait products of professional studios. And as for the c. 35 images remaining, the possibilities are evenly balanced to my mind that we have the work of an unnamed missionary photographer, or of a photographer belonging to one of the other groups I refer to below.

17The other album is QD-30.024. The research assistant who catalogued QD-30.024 was obviously of the opinion that this is also a Ramseyer album, and as I write (May 2003) the web site documentation reflects this belief. But I have severe doubts about this. One cause for seeing it as a Ramseyer album is the way that certain prints include, in their captions, the note that the photograph is from Ramseyer. But the logic of the situation is clearly, at best, ambiguous. These captions must have been written by a third party. So either he (or, indeed, she) gave up noting which were Ramseyer prints because there were so many of them - or the few Ramseyer prints were given this special remark to distinguish them from the majority of prints derived from other photographers, one of the most productive of whom may well have been the creator of the album.

18Of the c. 140 images in the album, about 60 can be identified as having been taken at a particular place. Almost 40 of these were taken in the traditional state of Akyem Abuakwa (with its two main Basel Mission stations of Kyebi and Begoro). Ramseyer was never resident there. More than half the album consists of anonymous photographs of womens’ hair styles or portraits of people, including many christian family groups. Although these are subjects which Ramseyer also photographed the style and composition is much more lapidary than that of the photographs we can clearly ascribe to Ramseyer.

19About a dozen photographs are dated, most of them lying between 1889 and 1894. But two photographs are dated to the 1870s14. In view of the number of what are evidently portraits of Christians, and once more the simplicity of the style of photography (not least the bed-sheet hung to provide a neutral background, for me a typical requisite of a missionary open-air photo studio) I regard QD-30.024 as evidence of the existence of at least one missionary photographer from the 1870s and 1880s additional to those whose names I have already given.

20The problems in identifying the work of individual photographers in the collection are, of course, considerable. The fact that we know about the work of Locher and Hornberger, for instance, is very much the result of some weeks spent by Timothy Garrard collating images in the collection and working his way through relevant parts of the MS archive searching for the words « photograph » and « camera » (or Photoapparat), with the precise task of trying to establish who took the earliest Ghana photographs, and when. He had no time to pay attention to the question whether there might be a second generation of mission photographers in Ghana - those in the 1870s and early 1880s. The documentation with which we have built up the database is by no means consistent over the decades, and a lack of indication so far that missionaries were taking photograph after Locher / Hornberger and before Ramseyer / Fisch certainly does not mean that there were none. So, to the c.130 early photographs which can be ascribed to Locher and Hornberger we can add, in my opinion, the probability that several dozen more photographs must date back to before 1885, and many of them may well have been taken by one or two missionary photographers as yet unidentified.

1.3. The Search for more 19th Century Photographs from the Gold Coast Colony : Images from Non-Missionary Photographers in the Basel Mission Collection

21If my assertion is right that Basel Mission photography will have mirrored a broad interest motivating other individuals and groups to attempt this art in the Gold Coast Colony, then one would also expect to find images derived from other groups of professionals or amateurs in our comprehensively catalogued collection. Indeed, we know from other 19th century mission fields, like India or China, that at this stage in the history of the production of visual resources missions and their employees were also interested in obtaining copies photographs as produced by people outside their own ranks. Three possible sources of such images are indicated by detailed study of the 19th century photographs in Basel, of which by far the most important in the Ghana collection are the professional photographers with their studios. And I am assuming that these will all have been natives of the Gold Coast or other West African colonies15.

22Professional photographers. The interested scholarly community has known now for many years that the history of indigenous professional photography on the West African coast goes back at least to 186016. In the archive in Basel we have identified a small number of Ghanaian professional photographers active in the 19th century or ca. 1900, the earliest of whom is Fred Grant, evidently a Cape Coast man, two of whose images of his home town in 1874 have entered our collection and present us with the oldest documented photographs we have from the hands of a Ghanaian photographer. But there could be many more. It is possible to search, in our web site, for photographs from « unknown studios » in Ghana. This search results in about 80 « hits », about half of which I would date before 1885/1890. It is also possible to search for « Portraits » in Ghana. Four of the best portraits from unknown studios - formal studies of truly beautiful African ladies - occur in an album QD-30.014, which is one of the two main locations of our oldest images. So it is not mere speculation to argue that there were Ghanaian or other West African professional photographers active back into the 1860s17.

23Travellers Secondly there is the question of photographs taken by European travellers, possibly with the intention of earning money with them on their return home. It is true, at the moment, that we have few, if any, specific indications that any of our Ghana images have this provenance. But the possibility that the work of such photographers has found its way into the Ghana collection too should not be forgotten - and we should certainly not discount the idea that travellers took significant numbers of photographs in 19th century Gold Coast. The clearest warning of this (aside from references in archives like that to photography in Elmina, below) is the news that in the Narodny Museum in Prague there is a small collection of photographs taken by the Czech traveller Enrique Stanko Vraz in Ghana in the 1880s. Judging by the four photographs published in an exhibition guide in 1989 Vraz was travelling through the Basel Mission area of Ghana - indeed, one of his photographs was taken at the same event in Abetifi which gives us our earliest date for Ramseyer’s photographs18. Evidence available in the Narodny Museum seems to indicate that Vraz was in Ghana for 8 years (1880-1888) - so if photography was one of his major activities there must have been many more images from his journey in Ghana than have appeared so far.

24Soldiers, colonial officials Finally we should remember that photography could be practised by officials - and in this context I would especially want to point to the possibility that there may have been at least at times officials who had been given the task of making photographic documentation. It is well-known, for instance, that the British Army expedition to Magdala (Ethiopia) in 1868 employed photography in creating plans and maps, especially for the use of the artillery. This is very suggestive - as my colleague Barbara Frey pointed out when I ascribed a photograph of Christiansborg Castle after the 1860 earthquake to the missionary photographer C.W. Locher, it could well have been that military administration demanded a photograph of the damaged building19.

1.4 Photography in the Gold Coast Colony before 1900 - a synthesis

25My assessment of the evidence presented so far for the history of the photography on the 19th century Gold Coast is that it was an often-practised art, even before 1885. The key confirmation of this in what I have presented so far, is, to my mind, the number of photographs which were evidently collected, or bought in, from unknown studios. This is the statistic which indicates that in spite of the absence of other large organised collections of Gold Coast photographs available for research, the probability is that photographs were being taken in much larger quantities than one would think if one approached the Basel collection in a conservative frame of mind. This would mean arguing, of course, that the prominence of Basel and Bremen missionary photography in the 19th century history of photography in Ghana has more to do with local features in the mission and photographic history of Basel and Bremen than broad developments in Europe and North America triggered off by the invention of photography. But I am of the opinion that this would be a false and misleading assertion.

26The trump cards in playing this particular hand are, however, something I have not brought prominently into my argument yet – indications in archival sources of the existence of photographers and photography outside the framework of the Basel or Bremen Missions. The most sensational of these are the traces of very early (pre-1850) photography which Larry Yarak has found in Dutch records concerned with Elmina. These include the report that a French naval officer went on shore and took a Daguerreotype photograph of Elmina Castle in January 1840 (!); a recipe for the different exposure times needed to take good Daguerreotype portraits of black, mulatto and « white » faces; and evidence that Yarak has himself seen in Ghana that there was on-shore interest in obtaining portraits of individuals based on photographs already at this time20. In the Basel Mission manuscript archive Veit Arlt has found en passant a number of references to photography in the 1860s, including a cri du cœur from Locher: German chemicals for photography are no good in tropical conditions – but he has been able to obtain English chemicals from an Englishman who, it seems logical to assume, was also taking photographs21.

27This all seems to indicate strongly that the motivation to take photographs on land on the Gold Coast – indeed right along the West African coast – was present right from the beginning of the history of photography. And that even among local populations there was an instant market for the products of photography. Photography became, in other words, rapidly part of colonial culture, even on these shores, inhospitable as they were to European practitioners of this skill, and the chemicals and apparatus which photography required. I would assert that nothing in the Basel Mission collection argues against this conclusion, and that much in our holdings argues in its favour. Which would make the history of photography in Asante – whose great national centre with its ceremonies of great visual impressiveness was, after all, by no means far from places where photography was being practised – a very different matter.

2. Reflections on visual sources for pre-1896 Asante.

28A crude breakdown of the number of photographs in the Basel Mission collection taken over time within the boundaries of what became colonial Asante emphasises how much 1896 was a pivotal year in the shift from a situation in which at best very few photographs had been taken, to a situation in which photographs were being produced in their hundreds22.

Photographs in the Basel Mission collection taken within the boundaries of colonial Asante 1918-1945

ca. 390

Photographs in the Basel Mission collection taken within the boundaries of colonial Asante 1896/7-1918

ca. 270

Images of all kinds in the Basel Mission collection taken within the boundaries of colonial Asante 1896 or earlier

ca. 20

Photographs of people from Asante on the coast before 1896


29The contrast between the time before and after 1896 is acute. The contrast with the history of photography in the Gold Coast before 1896 is also acute. Photography was, judging by these statistics, essentially a part of colonial culture, but one which independent Asante did not encourage or use.

30Breaking down the figure of ca. 20 images which derive from 1896 or earlier simply underlines this point.

Engravings based on drawings made by an artist accompanying British troops in Asante 1874


Engravings illustrating the life of the hostages in Asante 1869-74, most probably based on artists’ impressions of how it must have looked, and therefore drawn in Europe


Photographs dating back to 1896


Photographs clearly or probably taken in Asante before 1896


31It would be useful to comment on these last figures. « Engravings based on originals created in Asante 1874 » are all images which originated with the Illustrated London News, whose contribution to the visual impressions of Asante in 1874 I discuss further below.

32« Engravings illustrating the lives of the hostages... » are clearly based on drawings. I have so far seen no clear evidence that one of the hostages could draw – i.e. no evidence that these engravings were based on drawings which originated in the hostage situation and were sent from Asante to the Coast by hand-post. There are two pencil drawings in the Basel Mission archive which correspond to two of the published engravings, but there is always the possibility that housebound friends of the Mission expressed their concern and devotion by making copies of illustrations in mission literature, and that some of these have found their way into the archive23.

33« Photographs dating back to 1896 » are especially to be found in the files QD-30.020 (see footnote 12) and D-30.18. QD-30.020 does include, when one compares captions, a contrast which is, at first sight exciting: between one caption which includes the formula « Kumase 1896 », and three others whose captions include the formula « Kumase before 1896 ». My sober judgement is that if a photographer can be discovered who did photograph in Kumase before 1896, the « before 1896 » images could perhaps be added to his work, but the likelihood is that that they are photographs taken after the seizure of Kumase in 1896 to illustrate buildings in the style which had prevailed earlier24.

34Finally, the two « Photographs clearly or probably taken in Kumase before 1896 » are :

35- D-30.18.066, the famous photograph which it is claimed depicts an Asantehene with the Golden Stool at his side (in some versions of this scene a colonial officer sits at his ease in the left foreground, stretching out one leg which is resting on his other knee, but the Basel Mission image does not contain this offence to good taste). This image is usually linked to the reign of Kwaku Dua II and dated to February 188425.

36- D-32.024.0109, a negative which, according to its caption, shows the deposed Asantehene Mensa Bonsu and his mother. Mensa Bonsu died in 189626.

37The evidence of photography being practised within Asante before 1896 is, thus, thin in the extreme. And not surprisingly, in view of the fact that for the two photographs named there is almost no collateral information, the question of who took them where and when and in the case of the first one who it depicts, is not easy to answer. Several suggestions have been made about which chief is actually pictured on D-30.18.066 (I follow the identification by Wilks and McCaskie). The photograph is usually regarded as the product of a colonial officer (with, perhaps, a member of his staff actually pressing the button). But if so, did he really only take two photographs on Asante soil (i.e. once of a scene with him in the foreground, and once without) ? Or is D-32.024.0109 also likely to be his work ? In our records Ramseyer is given as the photographer, but in this case Ramseyer is almost certainly the supplier of the photograph to the headquarters in Basel, and not the photographer. The implications of the fact that we have the photograph as a negative are not as straightforward as I once thought, because it seems clear now that our collection holds duplicate negatives or repronegatives, and not only (or perhaps even no) original negatives.

38This general impression of a lack of photographs of independent Asante – and the rapid development of photography in the British colonial period – can lead us to a number of significant questions. What, for instance, was the root of the Asante opposition to photography before 1896 ? It can surely not have been fear of the camera, since photographs of Asante embassies on the Coast show their members looking into the camera with great self-possession27. More to the point in this essay is the question of how far public curiosity about Asante fuelled a boom in pictures of Asante in the only short period before 1896 when Asante political control could not be brought to bear on the activities of Europeans or non-Asante Africans wanting to take photographs – the time of the British invasion of 1874.

39The most spectacular evidence of curiosity about how Asante looked is the investment which the Illustrated London News put into reporting the campaign. An artist, Melton Prior, accompanied the troops. His sketches were carried to London in the same highly organised communications system which transported official despatches and the contributions of word journalists. Prior provided a whole series of illustrations which appeared in the ILN, and were then shown in a travelling exhibition in Britain in the latter part of 187428. It is interesting that the ILN commissioned an artist to provide illustrations – the system of publishing photographs as wood engravings was already firmly established. So why did ILN not use the more modern medium? Presumably – either directly, or as part of a general policy – the editors were sceptical about the ability of a cumbrous technique like the wet-plate collodium process to operate in tropical forests, and in situations under military threat. Perhaps, too, the crucial role of the human pencil - rather than an objective lense - meant that the editorial staff felt freer to « work up » images for publication than they might have done had the original been a photograph.

40Nevertheless the question can be very well posed as to how far the published illustrations provide us with sources which can be evaluated in work on Asante history – how good Prior’s draughtmanship was. A detailed assessment of each of the illustrations is well beyond the scope of this paper, but it should be said that many of his illustrations of village scenes in Asante (and indeed of the courtyards of Asante houses) look convincing. And his series of drawings of life in Cape Coast (where he spent much more time than he did anywhere else) deserve to be much better known and carefully contemplated29. So it seems to me his pictures of Kumase itself deserve more than cursory examination. The most interesting, in my eyes, is the view of Kumase drawn, evidently, on the roof of the Asantehene’s stone palace before it was destroyed and the town put to the torch.

Illustration 1: View of Kumase from the roof of the Asantehene’s stone palace before its destruction in 1874, (ref. QD-30.001.0061 in

Illustration 1: View of Kumase from the roof of the Asantehene’s stone palace before its destruction in 1874, (ref. QD-30.001.0061 in

41What are all the almost spire-like tall roofs which stand out from the general run of lower roofs? Nothing in my knowledge of Kumase or traditional Akan architecture prepares me for this question. What are we seeing ?

42Fastening on a detail like this is, of course, to pose quite acutely the question of Prior's draughtmanship and the route which the sketches took in London through the editorial and printing processes before actually appearing on paper. And indeed there is a piquant detail about this engraving. It does not appear in ILN. Instead, both in ILN (14th March 1874) and the special supplement From Cape Coast to Coomassie - a Narrative of the Ashantee War (see footnote 28) a double-page size engraving « The Burning of Coommassie » is published, quite evidently made from the same vantage point, and orientated in the same direction - and in this engraving, too, spire-like roofs are visible, though not all in the same place as in QD-30.001.0061. Now the British troops were in Kumase less than three days. As the city burned the stone palace was blown up. The likelihood that Prior made two drawings from this vantage point, one of them when the destruction of the city had started, is slim. And, indeed, in a comment published on 14th March Prior is quoted as having written « I have hurried off the accompanying sketch….Coomassie was burned, and therefore I think it would be more interesting to show it in flames », which suggests very strongly to me that he sent in one sketch, and that the flames and smoke were added in London. Another of his illustrations is linked to an interesting comment on the journalistic methodology of the time, again pointing to the importance of artists and engravers in creating the final engraving. On 28th March in an editorial text we read : « We have preferred to give a mere facsimile of Mr Prior's sketch, [of a battle scene] as then and there drawn by him, instead of the more finished work usually prepared from such sketches for the engravers on wood »30. The « facsimile » is interesting - it gives the staff in London both a general spatial impression of the scene - the trees as background - and an indication of the dynamic elements, like the pointing gun barrels. A battle sketch is, no doubt, an extreme case, but the role of artists and engravers working up these sketches in London helps to explain a strange tension which I find in my « reading-of », say, the Cape Coast pictures. Prior was evidently gripped by the life of Cape Coast streets etc, and yet the people are portrayed conventionally. This makes the extraction of observations from Prior’s visual documents which can be regarded as data for historians of the Gold Coast or Asante (rather than of the British view of Africa) a difficult task. But I find the unexpected element of the tall pointed constructions in the « roofscape » of Kumase something which he surely did not imagine or invent.

43Is the clue to the interpretation of these tall roofs contained in the classic photograph of a dampong in our collection

Illustration 2 : A dampong (ref. QD-30.020.0034 in

Illustration 2 : A dampong (ref. QD-30.020.0034 in

44A dampong was a roofed platform with walls on three sides, but on the fourth open to the street, which was a key symbol of the house of a man of affairs, somewhere where he sat and – presumably when the conversation was not secret – entertained his counterparts in business or politics. Picture 2 shows quite clearly a pitched roof higher than the roofs to either side. So does Picture 1 reflect a style of building in which - in the pre-1874 prosperity of Kumase - dampons were given even more pronounced roofs ? Or do these high roofs indicate something else ? However, whatever our detailed impression it does seem to me that in Picture 1 we are looking at a truly urban scene in which probably roof-lines (beside other architectural features) reflected the political and economic status of the heads of family or « stoolholders » who had constructed them, a visual sign of the pride Asante took in the architectural elaboration of its capital.

45Were there, besides the high-profile publicity given by the Illustrated London News, other less well-known and less celebrated sources of illustrations on Asante in 1874 ? A hint is given by the illustrations which Claude-Hélène Perrot and Albert van Dantzig published in their edition of Marie-Joseph Bonnat’s diary of his captivity in Asante. These include 3 wood engravings taken from the Paris periodical L’Explorateur, the caption of one of which claims that it is based on a photograph taken by Bonnat, while the other two are said to be based on photographs evidently from another photographer which Bonnat put at the disposal of the periodical.31 The assertion that these engravings were based on photographs is quite plausible – in the Basel Mission collection there are a number of wood engravings together with the original photographs on which they were based dating from 1860 to about 1890, decades in which there was no half-tone technique for transferring photographs to book-print, or if there was, it was too expensive for a missionary society. And typically an engraving based on a photograph has the kind of intense transmission of detail which one can see on the three figures depicted here and their clothing.

46These three images cannot be taken as « swallows which make a summer » – i.e. indicating a major production of photographs in connection with the 1874 expedition to Kumase. But they are at least, to use another English idiom, « straws in the wind », indications that, if one expects attempts to profit from the 1874 expedition among people capable of using cameras, one may well find that one's hypothesis is justified. Here is, indeed, confirmation in the shape of a few indications that Bonnat, an adventurous and entrepreneurial figure, was either trying to exploit these possibilities himself, or was acting as a middle-man for other photographers. The most interesting speculation which occurs to me in respect of photography and the expedition of 1874 is that the Cape Coast photographer Fred Grant may have tried to move inland behind the British troops, or perhaps (since each of the images referred to here show people rather than places) took photographs of people from Asante who turned up at towns on the Coast where he happened to have his equipment. Certainly the Grant photographs of Cape Coast which we have in QD-30.011 are specifically linked in their captions to the year 1874.

47We have been very fortunate in Basel to be working on a rediscovered collection of historical photographs which was evidently of enough significance to prompt foundations and other institutions from Switzerland, Germany and the United States to finance a programme to catalogue it and make it publicly available on the world-wide web. In spite of the special features of our situation in Basel, however, I nevertheless continue to argue, as I did at the beginning of this essay, that similar finds are liable to be made elsewhere. It seems to me inconceivable that – in spite of war damage – there are not important holdings of 19th century Ghana photographs in Britain, France and Holland which might even put the Basel collection in the shade. Certainly we hope that people consulting the Basel collection with knowledge of photographs from Ghana in other centres will complement our knowledge of the images on We have worked on the perhaps comfortable assumption that if nothing is known about a particular image it will have derived from the work of a missionary photographer. We look forward to being surprised by the identification of further photographers in 19th century Ghana whether they were missionaries or non-missionaries. We look forward to being able to catalogue some of our images more accurately than we have been able to do so far – and to being delighted with many photographs which we have not seen yet, which complement our holdings in significant ways. And one of the great prizes in this general field of current uncertainty and future discoveries must be ready to go to the scholar who uncovers significant bodies of non-missionary visual materials derived from the European fascination with Asante in the last decades of its independence.

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FISCHER, F., H., 1991, Rudolf Fisch und die Anfange medizinischer Arbeit der Basler Mission an der Goldküste, Murken-Altrogge, 585 p.

FREY NÄF, B., JENKINS, P., 1999, Arresting Entropy, Enabling New Synthesis – Conservation, Access and the Photographic Record of the Basel Mission 1850-1945, Basel, 36 p.

HALASZOVA, V., 1989, Nejstarsi fotografie zu zamori, pages unnumbered (c. 80 p.) (including texts in English and French), Prague

HUPPENBAUER, D., 1896, Von Kyebi nach Kumase, 3rd ed. Basel, 49.

ILN, The Illustrated London News

JENKINS, P., 1993, 1994, « The earliest generation of missionary photographers in West Africa and the portrayal of indigenous people and culture », History in Africa, 89-118, reprinted in Visual Anthropology (1994), 115-145.

—, 1996, « Four nineteenth century pictorial images from Africa in the Basel Mission Archive and Library Collections », in (ed) BICKERS & SETON, Missionary Encounters, Sources and Issues, London, 95-113.

McCASKIE, T., 1978, « A Pictorial Resource for Asante History : a preliminary description » in Asantesem, 41-44.

PERROT, C.-H., Van DANTZIG, A., 1994, Marie-Joseph Bonnat et les Ashanti, Paris, Société des Africanistes, 672 p.

RAMSEYER F., 1895, Quatre-vingt vues de la Côte d'Or d'Afrique après les originaux du missionaire F.R., Neuchatel, 80 p., [also published in Neuchatel in the same year under the German title : Achtzig Ansichten von der Goldküste…]

VIDITZ-WARD, V., 1987, « Photography in Sierra Leone 1850-1915 » in Africa, 510-517.

WEST, T., 1857, The Life and Journals of the Rev. Daniel West, London, 287 p.

WILKS I., 1976, « A Photograph of the Asantehene Kwaku Dua II » in Asante Seminar, 39-40

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1 A general report exists on the organisation and cataloguing work which took place in the Basel Mission archive picture collection up to the moment when the transfer to a web-site was designed and implemented, see Barbara Frey Näf and Paul Jenkins (1999). The web-site’s organisation is, we hope, self-explanatory. It includes information for First-Time users, and comments on Frequently Asked Questions. Researchers intending substantial or crucial investigations of parts of bmpix are, however, warmly advised to make contact with archival staff, to be advised on the best ways of approaching their questions. There are email addresses on bmpix intended to facilitate this contact. It is also important to state here that since 2001 operational responsibility for the Basel Misison archive lies with Mission 21, a fusion of a number of German-Swiss missionary societies. The archive continues to be owned by the Basel Mission, which functions as a support group for Mission 21.
2 This is perhaps the place to make a general point about the statistics offered in this paper. In most cases they are approximations, or to be understood as indicating orders of magnitude. Two issues lie behind this statement. Firstly the archival documentation in this collection is, as we shall see in footnotes 13 and 18, by no means comprehensive or even reliable. So that the individual researcher must be allowed plenty of scope to make his own assessments of when and where individual photographs were taken, if the cataloguing information is shaky. Secondly, as I write the software for has not yet reached the point at which we can correct catalogue entries on the web site in response to the new information or the new analyses which we, of course, hope will be reported back to us in Basel. (The web-site catalogue has a field for each image – “Notes” – in which the catalogue « biography » of the individual image is recorded and changes in catalogue information are documented.) One interesting methodology in upgrading the cataloguing information available on an individual image is to network it with others which are closely related to it. Dating is a particularly problematic process. So adjusting the catalogue information on one photograph can well have implications for many others. If, for instance, it were to be proved that Ramseyer had taken a photograph as early as 1885 or 1882 the approximate dating of dozens of images would have to be revised. For a parallel problem with Locher see note 5.
3 In particular: none of them have, as yet, appeared in the Methodist Mission Archive held in SOAS Library – personal communication from Rosemary Seton.
4 See Thomas West (1857). The five images reproduced in this book can be seen in under the reference numbers QD-30.037.0001ff. The reference to his scientific experiments is on p. 95. QD-30.037.0001 is the group portrait of an Asante embassy in Cape Coast which I also refer to below p. 275, footnote 27.
5 The issue of the earliest possible date for a body of photographs is raised quite acutely in the case of Locher. Timothy Garrard has found references to photographs which Locher brought to Basel as early as 1857 in the MS archive in Basel (see Minutes of the Basel Mission Committee for 15th June and 29th JNuly 1857), though we have not been able to identify them in the collection. Veit Arlt has supplied us with a body of incidental references to Locher’s correspondence from the 1860s which gives a rather better match to parts of Album QD-30.011. The problem here is not only that the photographs are inadequately documented. Before the late 19th century there is nothing like even the beginnings of a comprehensive list of photographs entering the mission house. Indications about photography – additional to the captions and the pictures themselves – have to be gleaned from the general MS archive which is large enough, and opaque enough (with the missionaries’ use of the old German handwriting) to make this the search for the proverbial needle in a haystack. One considered commentary on a Locher photograph – with thoughts about its dating – was published in Paul Jenkins (1996).
6 QD-30.011.0035. The precariousness of our documentation is well illustrated by this image. The name of the photographer is derived from the Kyebi Station Chronicle, which reports quite simply under January 1868 that « the Brethren Mader, Breitenbach and Kühne were here on a visit. Brother Mader conducted examinations, Brother Breitenbach took photographs, and Brother Kühne went hunting. » (D-5.23 p. 18). We assume that QD-30.011.0035 was a product of that visit. The new Okyenhene was, indeed, very young in 1868.
7 Breitenbach's Quarterly Report to the Mission leadership, from Abokobi, 30. March 1867 (D-1.19b.13) indicates that the camera was handed over to him, but also hints that Breitenbach did not find it easy to come to grips with photography. A reference to Locher trying to take photographs in the old Akyem Kotoku capital of Gyadam, shortly before its destruction, is at D-1.11.Christiansborg,22 p.4 – Locher's report to Basel for the first quarter of 1860. « Photography has to struggle with difficulties here which I had not anticipated […] I took some pictures in Gyadam but they are scarcely usable. »
8 It seems very likely that the photographs in QD.30.011 of the Basel Mission station in Anum, which lay to the east of the Volta, were taken by Hornberger – throughout the late 1860s travel to Anum from west of the Volta was disturbed by the fighting which blew up into the Asante-British war of the early 1870s. (Hornberger was working from the Bremen Mission station at Ho, which was north-east of Anum and in any case much closer than Locher’s station in Accra). NB there is a photographic family portrait of the Ramseyers and their first child (QS-30.003.0417.07) which must have been taken in Anum at the earliest in the early months of 1869 (the Ramseyers and their child were taken prisoner by an Asante force in June 1869). This is almost certainly Hornberger’s work.
9 See Paul Jenkins (1994). I have seen no indication as to what happened to Hornberger’s camera after 1869, but the Bremen missionaries abandoned the mission station in Ho in the face of the presence of an Asante army in the region, so the likelihood is that the camera was lost in the course of this upheaval.
10 An excellent detailed biography of Rudolf Fisch exists in a series of publications of medical history : see Friedrich Hermann Fischer (1991). The research for this dissertation was done too early, however, to reflect the intensive interest in photography which has developed in this archive in recent years.
11 There is a field in the web-site catalogue for a photograph entitled « Same Image » which links up a particular print with the same image in other parts of the archive, if the cataloguing staff have spotted the parallel. This field is already useful in the sense that it links vintage prints with points in the archive where the same image is available in other forms - in coloured slides for missionary lectures for example, or in engravings for use in mission publications.
12 See Fritz Ramseyer (1895). Students of Ramseyer's photography should also note that under the reference number QD-30.020 bmpix also offers a number of high-quality printed half-tone plates of photographs from Ghana which had evidently been available in a printing firm in Neuchatel, presumably (judging by the quality and contents) to be dated somewhat later than 1895.
13 Murphy’s Law is never far away from historians using our archival documentation on photographs. The event referred to here is the formal ceremonial take-over of Kwahu by the British colonial government. This occurred in May 1888, but in all of his albums Ramseyer’s handwritten captions give the event as having taken place in May 1885 - this mistake can be found with the images QD-30.041.0042, QD-30.042.0087-90, QD-30.043.0089-90 and QD-30.044.0108. The proper, 1888 date (5th May) is recorded in a contemporary report written by Ramseyer in Abetifi - D-1.49,85 and dated 13th May. But see also, for the cherry on the cocktail, footnote 18!
14 Here again, our documentation is, in the last analysis, ambiguous. These photographs show missionary buildings, and in the telegram-style of the captions the dates may refer to the years when the buildings were completed, and not to the date of the photograph.
15 The suggestion that they will have been local people is well-founded. The mortality on the Coast among Europeans was heavy right up to 1900, so that the chances of Europeans taking up professional photography in this region are minimal. And when one looks into the history of the coastal settlements in the 19th century, most of the people one can identify are indigenous (including the mulatto population under this heading), even though they have taken European family names – like Grant. Resident Europeans were few and far between.
16 See Vera Viditz-Ward (1987).
17 bmpix offers an alphabetical list of photographers and of photo studios, as well as a rubrik « Unknown photo studio ».
18 Enrique Stanko Vraz 1860-1932. See Vera Halaszova (1989). Murphy’s law applies here too: the caption to the photograph of the ceremonial take-over of Kwahu into the Gold Coast Colony printed in this brochure gives the date not as 1888, or 1885, but as 1883. See note 13 above).
19 See Paul Jenkins (1996). It does still remain true (a) that several of Locher’s Accra photographs feature Christiansborg Castle in the fore- or background, and (b) that the Castle was only a couple of minute’s walk from the accomodation he will have lived in as one of the Basel Mission’s Christiansborg members of staff. So my preferred guess remains that this is a Locher image – and indeed Veit Arlt has turned up an archival reference to a photograph of Christiansborg Castle with a tented camp taken by Locher in 1862 and sent to Basel (D-1.13b Christiansborg 78, dated 9.Dec. 1862). But the possibility of the existence of military photographers on the Gold Coast, especially when unsually large campaigns were being organised (1873-4, 1896, 1900) should not be discounted.
20 Yarak, Larry, in the Ghana Studies Council Newsletter for 1995, and (full text with illustration) on the personal homepage of Larry Yarak..
21 Basel Mission archive, Locher’s report for the first quarter of 1860, D-1.11 Christiansborg 22, n.d., p. 4, and Locher’s letter to Basel dated 12th June 1860 in D-11.Christiansborg 3, p.2.
22 Kwahu, of course, was an Asante province until 1874-5. The many photographs of Abetifi, and the few but often interesting ones of Mpraeso, Nkwatia and Obomeng, where Ramseyer was photographing between 1888 and 1895/6, are not included in these statistics.
23 I am referring here to the images QD-30.003.0007, and QD-30.007.0001.
24 Tom McCaskie (1978) commented on some of these Asante photographs. He .presents and assesses 8 photographs from the Basel Mission archive using an old Basel Mission reference system ( the “G” numbers), so it makes sense to indicate here what the modern reference numbers of each photograph are: G.149=D-30.18.047; G.331=D-30.18.071; G.651=D-30.18.051; G.652=D-30.18.049; G.655=D-30.18.069; G.759=D-30.18.066; G.1284=D-30.18.080.
25 This photograph has been discussed at length by Ivor Wilks (1976), and Tom McCaskie (1978 : 43).
26 I take Mensa Bonsu's year of death from the information in the rear index of Ivor Wilks' Asante in the 19th Century. The question of whether the photograph was taken before or after the British takeover is a fine one, of course. So far I have only been able to date it by seeing that it was published on p. 49 of the 3rd edition of Huppenbauer, David (1896). But this, like the date of Mensa Bonsu’s death, does seem to suggest that, all other things being equal, the photograph will have been taken in 1895 or earlier. The only serious reason for hesitating over this assertion is the scarcity of photographs taken in Asante before 1896.
27 bmpix contains a modern reproduction of the 1856 group portrait of an Asante embassy taken in Cape Coast by Daniel West (see footnote 4) QD-30.037.0001, and three copies of a photograph of Boakye Tenten’s embassy of 1881 – QD-30.020.0051, D-30.18.069 and QD-30.044.0041. Here again the dating on the captions is highly unreliable. NB the two last-named prints have obviously been rephotographed from an original stuck onto the wall with drawing pins, since the drawing pins have become part of the image. bmpix also contains an individual portrait of Prince Ansah, a son of an Asantehene who was educated in Britain earlier in the 19th century, but who returned to the Coast. – QD-30.020.0003. (He is also featured standing at Boakye Tenten’s right hand in QD-30.020.0051).
28 The Illustrated London News (from this point on abbreviated to ILN) produced a 48-page folio size and richly illustrated summary of the campaign under the title From Cape Coast to Coomassie, a narrative of the Ashantee War. Our copy has no title page with publication date, but it obviously appeared shortly after the end of the campaign in 1874. I have used the weekly numbers of the ILN in writing these paragraphs, not least since they include interesting comments about the artist and how his sketches were worked up into printed illustrations. ILN 17th Jan. 1874 (p. 17) gives the name of the artist. ILN 16th May (p.458 ), 23rd May (p. 479) and 6th June (p. 527) describe the public relations follow-up. ILN organised a travelling eshibition with about 100 of Prior’s sketches, a large painting of a battle scene created by a London artist, and some captured trophies. The reference on 6th June includes the news that Prince Ansah (see footnote 27) had visited the exhibition, and gives one or two particulars about him.
29 17 pictures of Cape Coast are listed in the index of pictures at the beginning of the volume of ILN which I consulted, and which covered the period Jan.-June 1874. They look to be an interesting source on the role of women in the economic life of Cape Coast in the 1870s. They also include (p.105) a picture of what looks like the interior of a traditional flat-roofed house in the town, partly collapsed, in which the fragments of a second floor are still in use.
30 ILN 28th March 1874, the « facsimile » is on p. 288, the editorial comment is on p. 290.
31 See Claude-Hélène Perrot, and Albert van Dantzig (1994), the engravings are printed on pp. 131, 340 & 469. The first and last of these were published in L’Explorateur in December 1875.
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List of illustrations

Title Illustration 1: View of Kumase from the roof of the Asantehene’s stone palace before its destruction in 1874, (ref. QD-30.001.0061 in
File image/jpeg, 116k
Title Illustration 2 : A dampong (ref. QD-30.020.0034 in
File image/jpeg, 123k
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Bibliographical reference

Paul Jenkins, « A Provisional Survey of nineteenth century Photography on the Gold Coast and in Ashanti », Journal des africanistes, 75-2 | 2005, 103.

Electronic reference

Paul Jenkins, « A Provisional Survey of nineteenth century Photography on the Gold Coast and in Ashanti », Journal des africanistes [Online], 75-2 | 2005, Online since 15 December 2008, connection on 17 April 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Paul Jenkins

Centre for African Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland

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