Robert T. Rohde’s ‘Japan Album’, 1877-1884, 15.2 x 53.5 x 5.4 cm, Private Collection of Dr and Mrs Rohde.
I recently undertook a piece of archival work on a Japan-related family heirloom known within my family as the ‘Japan Album’. The album which was compiled by Robert T. Rohde (the grandfather of my uncle) is significantly large in size comprising a total of 410 photographs. Of these 262 date from Rohde’s time in Japan (1877-1884) and a further 148 relate to his journey to and from Asia. The images are a mixture of commercially purchased photographs and private ones (some possibly taken by Rohde himself). The album itself is very battered and fragile, but the photographs, which have been rarely looked at in the last 100 plus years are in very good condition, I was therefore able to closely study their content. To prevent further deterioration of the album I decided to photograph them all and to record any accompanying words associated with their presentation. This involved close scrutiny and some detective work! The result was an extensive and versatile database that I was subsequently able to regularly refer to, which I will write more about in my next blog post.