YOUNG, James Lyle (1849-1929), collector (attributed); SPITZ, Charles Georges (1857-1894); HOARE, Sophia; HOARE, Charles
An important album with photographs of Tahiti, the Marquesas, the Tuamotus and Cook Islands, collected in Papeete in the 1880s by Pacific Islands trader James Lyle Young.
Late nineteenth-century album, folio (370 x 280 mm), red cloth boards decorated in blind (boards heavily rubbed and scuffed, hinges split), containing 90 (ninety) albumen prints, including 83 views and portraits taken in Tahiti, the Marquesas and the Tuamotus by Charles Spitz, Sophia (or Susan) Hoare and Charles Burton Hoare, three with Cook Islands subjects (attributed to Spitz), and four views by an unidentified photographer of “Rathvarna”, the Belfast residence of architect Robert Magill Young (1851-1925), cousin of James Lyle Young, a Pacific Islands trader based in Papeete from around 1882 until 1896 who was a founder member of the Polynesian Society in 1892. The prints are in various formats up to 230 x 300 mm, and (with a few exceptions) are mounted recto only on a total of 42 leaves (see full description of each leaf below); the vast majority have captions in ink beneath the image on the mount, in what is probably the hand of James Lyle Young; due to the specific and detailed nature of many of the captions, there can be no doubt that they were written by a person who was very familiar with the locations and subjects in the photographs (in some cases they even record a year that the image was taken); note that ff.25-28 and ff.30-31 (which include a view of the Crawford & Co. building in Papeete, built by J. L. Young in 1885) have captions in a different hand, possibly that of Young’s wife, Mary Stringer, whom he married in Papeete in 1884; a small number of the Tahitian and Marquesan subjects are drawings photographed by Sophia Hoare, and they include an extremely rare photograph of a masked dance on Atiu in the Cook Islands; otherwise the great majority of the images are attributable to Charles Spitz, among them one of Spitz’s most significant and memorable images, a full-length studio portrait of a tattooed Marquesan dancer. The album’s binding is in a distressed state, with some of the leaves now detached (noted below); however, the prints are predominantly unfaded and in very good condition, with some occasional wrinkling or edge tears caused in the mounting process.
The presence in the album of several photographs of “Rathvarna”, Belfast, the neo-Gothic residence built and owned by architect and civil engineer Robert Magill Young (1851-1925), has helped us to establish that the Polynesian photographs in the album were collected by James Lyle Young (1849-1929), Robert’s cousin. Both men were cousins of Irish politician, diplomat and historian James, 1st Viscount Bryce (1838-1922). The album was evidently compiled for Young’s Australian relatives; it had remained within the Australian branch of the Young family for several generations up until its recent discovery.
The journals and miscellaneous papers of James Lyle Young are held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. Many important Micronesian and Polynesian artefacts collected by Young were either donated by him to the Auckland Museum, New Zealand, or sold to the Bishop Museum, Hawaii.
Provenance: Family of James Lyle Young, by descent (Melbourne).
Related literature: Tréhin, Jean-Yves. Tahiti : L’Eden à l’épreuve de la photographie. (Gallimard, 2003)
Contents of the album (captions on mounts are italicized):
f.1 [detached] [Karte der Insel Tahiti … von J. A. Hecht … Faaa 1875. / Photographie par Ch. Hoare, Papeete]. [Title and imprint in image]. 230 x 300 mm.
f.2 Queen Pomare, died 1877. 230 x 140 mm.
f.3 “Papeete”. 150 x 220 mm / “Papeete” – another view. 150 x 220 mm.
f.4 Cocoanut avenue. 100 x 140 mm / “Pomatou” beach. 90 x 155 mm / Makatea, Pomatou. 90 x 150 mm.
f.5 Faataua avenue – near Papeete. 145 x 220 mm / Faataua bridge. 140 x 195 mm.
f.6 View near Papeete. 140 x 195 mm / View near Papeete. 140 x 200 mm.
f.7 Papeete – showing Government arsenal on right. 145 x 215 mm / Papeete – Club and Semaphore. 140 x 225 mm.
f.8 Papeete [crossed out, Pomoutou in pencil] – Mormon Church. 95 x 140 mm / Moorea. [Drawing] 100 x 150 mm / Cook’s Bay, Moorea. [Drawing] 100 x 150 mm.
f.9 Papeete – the Bishop’s Palace. 145 x 210 mm / Mr. Youpel’s residence near Papeete. 140 x 200 mm.
f.10 Native hut near Papeete. 140 x 200 mm / Native fête day. 140 x 200 mm
f.11 Festival at Rarotonga [Cook Islands]. 140 x 185 mm / Native masked dance, Atiu. [Cook Islands]. 140 x 200 mm
f.12 Cocoanut trees, bent by the great hurricane of 1877, Pomatou. 90 x 150 mm / View of Papeete. [Drawing] 100 x 155 mm / Papeete Harbour – Moorea Island in the distance. [Drawing] 90 x 145 mm.
f.13 Screw pine tree. 200 x 140 mm / Pomatou. 100 x 155 mm.
f.14 [Mausoleum of Tinomana Teariki Tapurangi (1854-1868), Rarotonga, Cook Islands]. 140 x 190 mm / Bolabola [ie. Bora Bora] Island. 150 x 220 mm.
f.15 Queen Pomare’s tomb. 200 x 140 mm / Pomatou. 100 x 140 mm.
f.16 Atimaono. 140 x 195 mm / View of Papeete. 150 x 235 mm.
f.17 Bread fruit trees. 205 x 145 mm / View of Moorea. [Drawing] 100 x 150 mm.
f.18 [Large group outside thatched dwelling. Pomotou?]. 100 x 140 mm / [Substantial building with high thatched roof. Pomotou?]. 100 x 140 mm / Pomotou. 100 x 140 mm.
f.19 Mr. [Daniel] Wheeler’s house, near Papeete. 140 x 200 mm / Papeete. 135 x 190 mm.
f.20 Waterfall near Papeete. 205 x 150 mm / Pomatou. 100 x 150 mm.
f.21 Barque “Ada Iredale”. 125 x 190 mm / Pomatou. 140 x 140 mm.
f.22 View of Papeete (with foreign ironclads in harbour). 140 x 230 mm / Marquesas men [Mapiau – Tahuku]. [Drawing] 150 x 100 mm / [Piaehua – Atuona]. [Drawing] 150 x 100 mm.
f.23 Native soldiers, Pomotou. 100 x 155 mm / [Europeans bathing]. [Drawing, by Julien Viaud (Pierre Loti)?]. 100 x 155 mm.
f.24 [detached] “Rathvarna” [View of architect Robert Magill Young’s house on the Antrim Road, outside Belfast]. 150 x 200 mm. / “Rathvarna” [another view]. 150 x 200 mm.
f.25 [detached] “Rathvarna” [side view]. 150 x 200 mm / “Rathvarna” [View of Robert Magill Young on the front steps of his house; with annotation by family member, dated 1978]. 200 x 150 mm. Verso: Top of Mt. Aorai 1882. 90 x 160 mm / From top of Mt. Aorai 6800 ft. Moonlight. 110 x 165 mm
f.26 “Tropic Bird” [schooner]. 185 x 220 mm / Old Fort of Fautana 1860. 115 x 160 mm. Verso: [Colonial residence at the foot of a mountain]. [Drawing]. 200 x 160 mm.
f.27 Avenue of Fautana, Papeete. Now Cour de l’Union Sacrée. 170 x 235 mm / Bain de Loti. 105 x 165 mm. Verso: [View along the Rue de la Petite Pologne, Papeete]. 185 x 220 mm / Port Phaeton, Tahiti. 110 x 160 mm.
f.28 Petite Pologne St. [now Rue de Gauguin] 1887. A. Crawford & Co building built by J. L. Young in 1885. 190 x 230 mm / Road round the island, Tahiti. 110 x 165 mm.
f.29 In the Forest. 210 x 185 mm. Verso: [La Famille Royale. Papeete, Tahiti]. [Title in image] 140 x 100 mm.
f.30 [Group portrait with two men and two women; Spitz’s studio backdrop]. 175 x 140 mm. / Tattoed leg of Queen Vaikehu. Marquesas 1840 1850 (?). [Drawing, made in 1846 by a French naval officer]. 140 x 100 mm.
f.31 Entrance, Tarauoo Harbour. 170 x 215 mm / Road near Papenoo. 105 x 165 mm. Verso: Hivahoe [Hiva Oa], Marquesas. [Drawing]. 150 x 200 mm.
f.32 Light house, Point Venus. 210 x 140 mm
f.33 Marquesan Dancer. [Spitz’s studio backdrop]. 210 x 140 mm
f.34 Bananas. 210 x 170 mm. Verso: [Left hand half of a panoramic landscape]. 170 x 210 mm.
f.35 [Right hand half of a panoramic landscape]. 170 x 210 mm.
f.36 Arsenal, Fareute [Fare Ute], Papeete. 165 x 210 mm.
f.37 [Unidentified mountain track]. 165 x 110 mm / [Unidentified mountain stream]. 165 x 110 mm / [Unidentified mountain stream]. 110 x 165 mm.
f.38 [Market vendors with their produce, Papeete]. 190 x 220 mm.
f.39 Olea Dance. 190 x 220 mm.
f.40 Madeleine. 160 x 110 mm / “Paea” [yacht], Charles Chapman 1882. 160 x 110 mm / Beach Road, west side. 110 x 165 mm.
f.41 Araroi village. 110 x 165 mm / [Unidentified coastal scene]. 110 x 165 mm / [Matavai Bay] x 1769 [Cook’s anchorage marked with a cross]. 110 x 165 mm. Verso: [Unidentified mountain stream]. 110 x 170 mm / [Unidentified mountain stream]. 110 x 160 mm.
f.42 Giant Arum. 110 x 165 mm / [Group portrait with three women; Spitz’s studio backdrop]. 140 x 100 mm.
[Loose at rear of album: five large format albumen prints with scenic views of County Antrim, Ireland).
Biographical note on J. L. Young:
‘James Lyle Young was a remarkable Pacific character whose amazing life experiences across the full breadth of the Pacific have not yet been fully documented, although some of his voluminous and detailed diaries have survived. Born in Ireland on 4 July 1849, James moved with his family to Australia in the 1850s. As an adventurous young man, Young left his home at Kyneton, Victoria in February 1865, working on farms in Victoria and New South Wales. In June 1870, he left Melbourne for Fiji where he spent the next five years. He left Fiji about April 1875 on his first trading voyage, subsequently spending much of the next year in Samoa. On 25 May 1876, Young left Apia for Ebon as a trading agent for Thomas Farrell. The next few years of his Pacific travels were concentrated in Micronesia, where he visited or lived on many of the islands including Ebon, Butaritari, Mille, Majuro, Arno, Jaluit, Kili, Namorik, Yap. Guam, Ponape, Rota, Saipan, Tinian, Lamotrek, Kusaie, and Nukuoro where he nearly drowned in November 1879. During these years of 1877 to 1881 he made the acquaintance of people such as Kubary, Couzens and Rev. E.T. Doane of the Boston Mission, all names associated with the collecting of tino aitu figures from Nukuoro. Young clearly had many opportunities to collect such figures for himself. Between mid-1881 and 1882, with travels to San Francisco, Young established himself as a manager of trading firms at Tahiti. From 1882 to 1911 he made nearly 100 sea voyages in the eastern Pacific, including Pitcairn and Easter Island, and between San Francisco and New Zealand. He married Mary Stringer at Papeete on 23 August 1884. Young eventually moved to Auckland in 1904 where he became the Managing Director of Henderson and MacFarlane, and continued to travel constantly to Tahiti and San Francisco. He was a founder member of the Polynesian Society in 1892. In 1909 he donated two Tahitian model canoes to Auckland Museum and in 1915 a large stone bowl from eastern Polynesia and a large stone head from Easter Island. In later life he moved back to Australia, dying there at Warren, New South Wales in 1929 … When Young moved to Auckland in 1904, he brought his artefact collection with him or had already been assembling it in Auckland. In September 1920, Mr J. Allan Thomson, the Director of the Dominion Museum in Wellington was requested by W.A. Judd of the Bishop Museum to provide a valuation of the collection. He arrived at a round figure of 2000 pounds, which the Bishop Museum subsequently accepted. A detailed catalogue of the collection, compiled by Young on 23 August 1920, was supplied to Thomson for his valuation process. Most of the items in the collection had been collected in Tahiti and Easter Island with a few from the Marquesas Islands, Mo’orea, Huahine, Borabora, Makatea, Maupiti, Raiatea, the Tuamotu Islands, Mangareva and the Cook Islands, reflecting the later years of his business dealings in eastern Polynesia. However, some other items from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Gilbert Islands, Marshall Islands, Caroline Islands and New Caledonia show that he had been collecting artefacts from the first years of his Pacific career in Micronesia….’ (Roger Neich. A recently revealed Tino Aitu figure from Nukuoro Island, Carlone Islands, Micronesia. Journal of the Poynesian Society, vol. 117, 2008, pp 331-32).
Obituary for J. L. Young, written by Percy S. Allen, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August 1929:
‘Few men had so intimate a knowledge of the Eastern, Central, and Northern Pacific as James Lyle Young, a distinguished member of the Polynesian Society, whose death took place at his son’s station, Meramie, Warren [New South Wales], on Saturday last. His remains were cremated at Rookwood yesterday afternoon. Everyone who has had to do with the Eastern Pacific since the early eighties knew and esteemed Mr. Young, not only as a high Polynesian authority, but as a very fine and lovable character As far back as 1870 he began trading from Sydney to Ponape, Kusaie and other places in the Carolines, to the Marshalls, and the far-away Marianas, as well as to Pleasant Island, which nowadays they call Nauru. This part of the Pacific was then a region of romance, and Becke has left us some glimpses of the idyllic life in those days. There is not much romance left now. Mr Young knew the notorious buccaneer Bully Hayes very well, and had some very unpleasant dealings with him. Mr Young a son of Mr Charles Young, a member of one of the early Victorian Ministries, and a cousin of Viscount Bryce, remained in the Northern and Central Pacific for 11 years, and in 1881 took a cargo of Island produce to San Francisco. The firm to which it was consigned Andrew Crawford and Co., prevailed upon him to superintend their trading stations in Tahiti and the Marquesas. He remained with the Crawfords till 1888, and then started business in Papeete on his own account, with his main station at Papeete and numerous stations in the outlying islands. He sold out in 1896, and returned to Sydney. Two or three years later he bought the Island businesses of Henderson and Macfarlane— what memoiies their name recalls—and, becoming at the same time managing director of S. R. Maxwell and Company, of Tahiti, settled in Auckland, making extended visits twice every year to the Eastern Pacific. He retired from business two or three years ago, and since had lived with his only son at Warren. He attained his 80th birthday last month. Mr Young had a wonderful knowledge of native life, and could recite the Polynesian legends and illustrate them with appropriate native gesture, so to the manner born that no less an authority than Sir Maui Pomare has described him is “a real Pakeha Maori”—one who could think and speak like a Maori. Becke himself put Mr Young at the top of the list of the people who knew the Northern and the Eastern Pacific best. Mr Young has left a series of most valuable papers on native legends and ceremonies some of which have been published by the Polynesian Society, and was for many years engaged in researches in connection with the mystery of Easter Island…’