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Album titled 'Indonesian sea-craft photographs and notes', compiled by Geoffrey Ingleton in 1932

Date: 1932
Dimensions:
Overall: 291 mm, 1.2 kg
Medium: Paper, cloth, leather, gilt, ink
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Photograph album
Object No: 00018002

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    Description
    An album compiled by Geoffrey Ingletion containing photographs, clippings and printed related extracts concerning native sea-boats, 'perahu', from the Indonesian archipelago in 1932. Ingleton had been aboard HMAS CANBERRA as it stopped at the ports of Makassar, Surabaya and the Dutch colonial capital, Batavia.
    SignificanceThe Ingleton album augments the incomplete record of traditional perahu shipping earlier this century, owing its existence to his evident delight in the variety and aesthetic appeal of Indonesian shipwrights ' response to their archipelagic environment.
    Glimpsed here are vital maritime cultures which had survived centuries of Dutch monopoly of shipping in the more lucrative trades. It gives us a view of an ancient maritime technology which linked northern Australia and its Aboriginal inhabitants with the outside world long before Europeans arrived.
    HistoryIn 1932 Geoffrey C Ingleton was a young officer on board HMAS Canberra when, during a cruise of northern Australian seas, it called into the Netherlands East Indies ports of Makassar, Surabaya and the Dutch colonial capital Batavia. Ingleton, who would later become known as an accomplished maritime artist and historian, set about recording with a camera, pencil and watercolour some of the many native craft he encountered, bringing to the job a keen sailor's eye for detail. In later years he assembled an album of these prints and sketches, with some brief notes about the 1932 visit. The Australian National Maritime Museum acquired the album in 1993 when, at the age of 85, Ingleton auctioned a portion of the extensive maritime library which he had already begun to assemble at the time of his cruise through the Indies.

    The album affords a rare glimpse of the maritime world of the Indonesian archipelago nearly 65 years ago — then, as now, a melting pot of seafaring cultures where archaic types of craft sailed alongside contemporary ones that combined indigenous technology with recent colonial adaptations. Ingleton's interest appears atypical. The record of this intensely prolific maritime society's sea craft over the entire European period is fragmentary, suggesting that most western mariners either took for granted the seafaring accomplishments of their colonial subjects, or disdained them.

    Ingleton's visit, in the late east monsoon or dry season, occurred after four years of the Great Depression which still showed no signs of abating. While its consequences were dire for Western shipping, perahu shipping (local indigenous vessels) was now thriving after decades during which its overal lshare of tonnage and cargoes had in general declined, not withstanding a temporary boom during the First World War. Since its formation in 1888, the Dutch shipping company KPM (Konink Ujke Paketvaart Maatschappij) had engaged in a predatory strategy of encroachment on "the tradidonal and non-corporate sector through displacement, takeover and consolidation". In the Depression, however, KPM had retreated from this policy of under cutting perahu shipping, in order to consolidate their own operations in difficult times. As the freights paid on cargoes fell, along with the prices of commodities, the perahu operators competed with more confidence. New perahu were built and their average size increased, providing an example of what has been called a perverse supply curve.Ingleton's photography well captures the healthy state of perahu shipping at the time.
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