Panoramic photograph of Nauru, or Pleasant Island
Circa 1915. Gelatin silver print photograph, 85 x 300 mm, laid down on contemporary board with printed label beneath the image, housed in a contemporary frame with Art Nouveau design. Fine.
The remote Pacific island of Nauru, lying 300 kilometres to the west of Kiribati (Gilbert Islands), was originally settled by both Micronesian and Polynesian seafaring peoples. From its discovery by Europeans in 1798 until around 1920, the island was known in English as Pleasant Island. The island was under German administration from 1888 until November 1914, when it was seized by Australian forces. Its rich phosphate resources, ruthlessly mined since the late nineteenth century, have now been almost completely depleted. The German Jaluit-Gesellschaft had sold its mining rights to the British-owned Pacific Phosphate Company in 1906, and after World War One phosphate mining was controlled by the British Phosphate Commissioners. It was not until 1970 that the newly independent Republic of Nauru was able to purchase the rights to the mining of its own natural resources.
Nauru has once again become the focus of international attention because of the controversial Australian Government asylum seeker detention and processing centre recently established on the island.
Early photographs of Nauru are seldom offered on the market. This is a particularly good panoramic view taken from the main jetty, most likely in the period immediately following annexation by Australia in 1914.