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From woodcut to photograph: techniques of book illustration

Hans Meyer

Photograph of African tribal chief, Mareale, Chief of Marangu, pictured in a forest settingPhotograph of Mareale, Chief of MaranguThis work employs a mixture of illustrative techniques to accompany the account of Hans Meyer’s ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro in 1889. Meyer (1858-1929) is credited as the first European to reach Kilimanjaro’s summit. He successfully ascended Kibo, the higher of its two peaks, after two failed attempts.

This first English edition includes a frontispiece chromolithograph, twelve photogravures, eight mounted photographs, three fold-out maps and various wood engravings within the text. The edition was published by the firm of George Philip & Son, which chiefly supplied the school market with textbooks, specialist atlases and wall maps.

The illustrations by ET Compton (1849-1921) were made after Meyer’s own photographs and the author commended them in his preface for their fidelity to the mountain scenery they depict and for capturing the local colour of East Africa.

Compton was an English-born painter and illustrator well-known for his depictions of Alpine scenery. The mounted photographs, however, like the one shown here of the chief of Marangu, bring Meyer’s journey vividly to life for the reader.

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