The Edmunds/Bryan photograph collection, Rapanui circa 1900-1920

About the Collection

The "Edmunds/Bryan Photograph Collection" in the University of Hawai'i Library's Pacific Collection was purchased from Arundel Books on 19 April 1994. The purchase notes indicate the photographs were from the estate of Raymond Burr, actor, owner of a small island in Fiji and Pacific enthusiast. According the University of Hawai'i's catalog entry, there were 247 images at the time of purchase.

This collection is composed of photographs taken by Henry Percy Edmunds, manager of the Williamson Balfour property from 1904 to 1929, and William Alanson Bryan Jr. (1875-1942), former Professor of Zoology and Geology, College of Hawai'i (now the University of Hawai'i). Internal evidence, such as notations on the verso of some of the photographs, makes it clear that the collection was gathered by Bryan.

It is not difficult to distinguish the photographs taken by Bryan from those by Edmunds. Firstly, the quality of the Edmunds images is generally superior to Bryan's efforts in composition and photographic technique. Secondly, and most importantly, the Edmunds images are simple contact prints, made without benefit of an enlarger, while the Bryan prints were produced by a professional studio and feature borders. A third criterion is that generally Edmunds' hand in ink describes his own work on the verso, while Bryan has penciled remarks on the verso of his.

Adapted from notes written by Grant McCall, November 14, 1997.