|An albumen print showing a group of Cornish miners in Swaziland.
It is estimated that a quarter of a million Cornish migrated abroad between 1861 and 1901. These emigrants included farmers, merchants and tradesmen, but miners made up most of the numbers. The Cornish economy profited from the miners’ work abroad, since many men sent back ‘home pay’, which helped to keep their families out of the workhouse. By 1905 there were some 7000 Cornish miners on the Rand in South Africa, and about one million pounds a year was being sent back to Cornwall from the Transvaal alone.
A pencilled inscription in a period hand in the lower margin reads ‘Cornish miners at Pigg’s Peak.’ The town of Pigg’s Peak grew up after the discovery of gold there in 1881. Three years later William Pigg struck a gold mine which for 80 years was the largest in the country.
The print measures 5.6” by 8.1” (139 mm by 205 mm) and is mounted on an album page measuring 9” by 11.4” (230 mm by 290 mm). On the reverse of the album page there is another, similarly sized photograph showing a rather dull landscape titled ‘Havelock G. M. Co., Swaziland’ [presumably standing for ‘Havelock Gold Mining Company.’]
condition: The print is in excellent condition, although the album page shows a small amount of foxing and has yellowed a little with age at its edges. Also, the album page has warped slightly in its upper and lower
margins, but the print is unaffected.
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