Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rare Books, the Tropics, Part 3

Illustration from Panama La Vieja by John F. Shafroth. Published by Imprenta Nacional, Panama City, 1953

Panama La Vieja by John F. Shafroth was written in English and translated into Spanish, displaying text in both languages and old photographs of ruins. These structures , the Spanish council, cathedral, convent, hospital, royal houses and fort were essentially the “first city founded by Europeans (in 1519) on the Pacific Ocean”—p.3. This coat of arms which promises the voyagers will find the Spice Islands (by passing through the Isthmus) underscores the European connection to the Pacific.

Illustration from Panama, Eslabon entre Dos Mundos. Published by El Servicio Informativo de los Estados Unidos, Balboa, Panama, 1953.

Panama, Eslabon entre Dos Mundos… published for the 50th commemoration of Panama’s independence, brings cultural and political aspects of Panama’s history into focus along with a chronicle of the Canal, its important foreign players and inhabitants, both native and immigrant. With pages of illustrations and photographs from each era beginning in 1502, it’s written entirely in Spanish, and includes maps and other graphics.

Cover of The Panama Canal August 15, 1914-1939 Twenty-fifth Anniversary. Published in 1939.

The Panama Canal August 15, 1914-1939 Twenty-fifth Anniversary is a publication of the U.S. Government, printed by the Panama Canal Press in 1939. It focuses in detail on highlights in the history of Spain’s efforts at opening a waterway through the Isthmus, the French government’s attempts to remove the geologic obstructions, and the American success in building the canal, which required years of planning and execution. The booklet’s chapters include “Sanitation and Health”, important due to diseases and tropical insect which carry them, and the “Panama Railroad Company”, transportation adjunct to the canal, built over swampland.

Rare Books in the Museum Research Library:

The Library’s rare book section offers topics like the Panama Canal, maritime policy and theory, voyages, the seafaring life, etc. Much the same as today, these books exemplify the culture and beliefs of audiences eager for new knowledge in scientific theory, political theory, historical fact and literature, but they were written in a world of 50 to almost 200 years ago. Please call the Library, or send an email message through our website, requesting to review these and other books in person.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Rare Books, the Tropics, Part 2

Souvenir Travel Photographs from the Panama Canal

Souvenir of the Panama Canal: a pictorial history containing the most important and interesting photographs ever published of the Panama Canal and Republic of Panama. / I.L. Maduro. Published by I.L. Maduro, Panama City. Date uncertain, 1900-1914?

Faux alligator-skin cover is off-red with a silver tone for the title, befitting the cover of a souvenir from the sub-tropical canal. Each page of about 200 pages in this letter-sized book carries large photographic records of buildings, housing, native peoples, and progress on the locks being built there. Many of the photographs appear to have been carefully rendered to represent a clear image.

Two images from the book are shown below, giving a sense of the dredging necessary in the early 1900s to open the waterways for ships.

A steam shovel and workers pose at Pedro Miguel.

A culvert and a man posed at Gatum Locks in the Panama.