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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 7/30/2020
Extraordinary collection of over 800 silver gelatin photos, mostly of China during the late 1920s and early 1930s during the Chinese Civil War, with spectacular vistas alongside documentary style photos, including some that show the destruction of the city of Changsha as a result of the war. The photos were taken by B. Kenneth Anthony, a faculty member of the Yale-in-China association who traveled from his home near Boston, Massachusetts to Changsha in 1928, staying until 1931 when he had to flee the country; interestingly, Mao Zedong edited the Yale-in-China newspaper a decade earlier during his formative years in Changsha. In addition to the photos documenting the country during this uneasy time, the archive also includes nearly 100 letters written by Anthony to his family back home, with detailed content regarding the political situation as the Communists and Nationalists jockeyed for control of the region.

Approximately 670 of the photos are housed in seven accordion-style photo albums, with three albums of Changsha in particular distinguishing the collection. Contained in the first two albums are intimate snapshots of the capital of Hunan Province from 1929-1930 up until the Communist takeover of the city in July 1930. Dozens of photos show the Yale grounds along with its faculty and students, as well as documentary photos such as a barber shop, residential streets, tradesmen, ''scenes along the Siang River'', a Chinese wedding, a charming photo of a young Chinese boy sitting atop a small buffalo with his father looking over him, makeshift bridges, small aircraft, and a group of boys who were the ''Runners-up for Provincial Soccer Championship''. Several photos from an event inaugurating General Ho Chien as Governor of the Province are also included, featuring President Chiang Kai-shek who was in attendance.

The third photo album of Changsha from late 1930 documents the destruction of the city in July-August from both Communist soldiers, who destroyed many of the government buildings and missions, and Nationalist forces who, allied with foreign powers, bombarded the city to regain control. Many of these photos are captioned, such as those showing ''barbed wire defense and sentries'' and ''a ring of trenches'' around the city. Approximately 20 photos show the ''Changsha Ruins'', showing bombed-out schools and missions with notes such as ''Once a Provincial Parliament Building'', ''The Looted Presbyterian Girls Middle School'', and ''American Church Mission Girls School - So Well Built It Was Hard to Burn''. A completely gutted police station is tempered with the note, ''This is not typical of the city as a whole - private residences and shops were unharmed for the most part - only pubic and official buildings and missions being harmed.'' However, Anthony also notes that ''several blocks in the center of the city looked like this'', with this being the partially destroyed Governor's Yamen, indicating ''the Reds fired this first.''

Other photos in the collection include Anthony's travels throughout China, Japan and Korea, with beautiful photos of vistas and attractions interspersed with those of local residents. Included are the following locations in the time capsule of 1928-1931: Shanghai, Nanking and Jiangsu Province, the Yangtze Valley, Hankow, Wuchang, Beijing (showing the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the Legation Quarter, and Summer Palace), Changli Mountains, Manchuria, Liaoning Province, Dezhou, Qufu, Qingdao and other parts of the Shandong Province including Mount Tai, Mount Unzen, and the Diamond Mountains, including the tomb of Sun Yat-Sen.

Of equal importance to the collection are the 107 letters, 85 of which are written by Anthony to his family, a first-hand foreigner's account of the escalating Civil War in China. Many of the letters include detailed descriptions of the political situation, including accounts of government officials trying to stay on the good side of both the Communists and Nationalists, leaders in the two groups, and also powerful warlords. One such letter documents the destruction of Changsha following the eight-day Communist occupation, during which time Anthony was in Japan getting married. When he returned to Changsha he described the city in a lengthy 8pp. handwritten letter dated 7 September 1930, reading in part, ''...the horror in the city, the burning and looting of government and mission property and the uncertainty of the situation...The Reds - who consist of several independent bandit armies - were in the city for about 10 days. They themselves did an amount of burning and looting - the first sign of the outbreak being the destruction of the provincial government yamen by agents in the city on Sunday night, July 27, before the main body of Communists had arrived. The foreigners with two or three exceptions were already out all having been unarmed...Miss Russell...getting out a day or so laden in Chinese clothes. Mr. Lingle...barely getting away with his life...watching his home go up in flames as he escaped in a small boat...Father Reina of the R.C. Mission prisoner in the Red headquarters luckily meeting an official who was a returned student from France and who secured his release...

Terror came in the wake of the invaders. All prominent Chinese - and ones with any money at all - such as our teachers - went into hiding immediately. They shaved their heads and wore coolies clothes to approximate workmen as closely as possible, hardly daring to move, even to buy vegetables. Several big gold shops and department stores in the center of the city were looted clean...The Reds attempted to organize unions, but weren't able to move very quickly. The laboring classes warily remembered their disillusionment of 1927 when the same thing netted them little.

Capitalist and foreign institutions were marked for destruction, and particularly offices and buildings connected with the government and the Kuomintang. A few Communist soldiers would open up a place, then the rabble - the same sort of folks that made capital out of the Boston police strike - did the rest. The Presbyterian compound was looted in one night, the job finished by dawn - loose papers scattered everywhere, and every article of furniture gone. Doors, windows, as well as floors and staircases in some locations had vanished too. Pianos were used for kindling wood. The Japanese consulate is now a burned-out shell. The Standard Oil, Asiatic Petroleum Co...and other foreign firms destroyed. The Norwegian Mission...Wesleyan, Episcopalian, and Y.M.C.A. residence compounds are pitiful to see...two or three business firms were saved by their coolies who protested that destruction would mean loss of their livelihood...

In the Evangelical compound, neighbors protested burning for fear of setting fire to the whole vicinity, so the Reds consented to let it go if the neighbors themselves would destroy the buildings...Bullets were shot into the Texaco tanks, and all that resulted was a little leakage. The Hunan Bible Institute was used as Communist and troop headquarters...Our men at Yali were terrified of course at the happenings and went into hiding in the city almost immediately with their families...One teacher stayed on the campus - Sheng Keng - and organized the servants and the eight or nine students still on the ground into squads to patrol the ground day and night with boy scout staffs. This was to keep out the hoodlums - they would not have been so foolish as to resist the Communists themselves, had they come. Mr. Sheng told me also that they spread the rumor in the neighborhood that the Yali people had prepared some chemicals which would dissolve any robber who appeared...

We got to Changsha at dusk, anchored behind nine gunboats (two British, two American, two Japanese, two Chinese, one Italian)...Changsha had then been surrounded by a Communist army for a week, but the government seemed to have the condition well in hand, with lines of barbed wire and well-defended trenches all around the city...Reinforcements had come down from Hankow. They had even attempted to electrify some wires to add to the defense...The [future] is quite unsettled, especially with possible divisions in the government forces in Changsha, the reentry of the Kwangsi troops into the picture in southwestern Hunan and Nanking's desire to get rid of Ho Chien who appears to be responsible by his weakness for all the trouble of the last three months...''

Equally as fascinating are most of the other letters, many of which have political content, such as a 4pp. since-spaced typed missive on red Yale-in-China stationery. Dated 27 March 1929, letter reads in part, ''...at the present moment it looks from here as if war of some kind were inevitable. The Nanking government are moving large bodies of troops against the Kwangsi party in Hankow, and the Kwangsi men are fortifying their position to be ready for any circumstance. In the event of war there are likely two results one of which will be brought to pass - either Chiang Kai-shih [sic] will defeat the Kwangsi men quickly and send them running for their home province in the southwest (find it on the map), and so enhance the power and prestige of the Nationalist party in Nanking, bringing China that much nearer unity and stability, or else Feng Yu-hsiang who is somewhat of an unknown quantity and always a name to conjure with, will cast in his lot with the Hankow people, since rumor has it that he is not quite in tune with Chiang's high handed methods, and then the country will be brought again into the throes of civil war. That would be a miserable shame.

Many things are astonishing in China. One is that the militarists can be so selfish and so absolutely unpatriotic that they will push numbers of innocent people into suffering for their own small good...Again if there's a war, no matter which party is in power in a particular place, the post office will go on selling stamps...The British and Japanese steamers will of course not stop running on the Yangtze...Ho Chien, the governor, right now is in a tight place. He doesn't know whether to declare loyalty to Nanking or Hankow...Probably he'll wait till Nanking is close enough to protect him and then tell the world he's for them, thumbing his nose at the party which gave him his position. / Ho is a pretty good fellow however...he didn't want to become governor, but it was almost that or fight...''

In addition to the photo albums and letters, this archive also includes almost 400 postcards of Anthony's travels throughout Asia and Europe, plus dozens of ephemera pieces such as travel ship programs, luggage tags, and travel brochures including an illustrated book ''Letter from Madame Chiang Kai-shek to Boys and Girls Across the Ocean''. The photos vary in size, ranging from 5.5'' x 7.25'' to 2.5'' x 1.75'', and photo albums contained in custom slipcases each measure 7.125'' x 10.25''. Letters also vary but most measure 8.5'' x 11'', nearly all in very good to near fine condition. A important archive not only providing a visual tour of China in the late 1920s, but also documenting the beginning of the Civil War that would profoundly affect world politics in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Some of the images from the photo albums can be seen here: Photo Albums

Letters (listed in chronological order) can be seen here: Letters

Large Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative Years
Large Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative Years
Large Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative YearsLarge Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative Years
Large Archive From 1928-1931 Documenting the Chinese Civil War, Including Over 800 Silver Gelatin Photos & 100 Letters -- With Attention to Changsha, Where Mao Zedong Spent His Formative Years
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Auction closed on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
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