Cruise of the Mauretania to the Mediterranean 1923 (Photo Album)…

Cruise of the Mauretania to the Mediterranean 1923 (Photo Album) [cover title]
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Cruise of the Mauretania to the Mediterranean 1923 (Photo Album) [cover title]

Stamford, CT: Publishers Photo Service, Inc, 1923. [114] leaves. 13-3/4 by 10-1/4 inches. Photo album of the first luxury cruise of the RMS Mauretania (Cunard Line), following its sixteen years of service as a transatlantic ocean liner and World War One hospital ship.

This bespoke album contains 113 black-and-white photographs, 9-1/2 by 7-1/2 inches each, tipped-in recto only, one per leaf, with caption labels in varying fonts glued beneath.

Includes two full images of the Mauretania herself, one in Corsica and one from the Grand Corniche Drive in the French Riviera, plus one of the bow taken aboard at the landing at Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

The photos depict idyllic stops in Spain, Algiers, Monte Carlo, The French Riviera, Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Istanbul, Athens, Giza, Cairo and Portugal, and includes a smoking Mt. Vesuvius.

Despite the opulence, the luxury tourists were shocked after landing in Turkey among desperate refugees. Three photos show refugees in a camp on the Bosphorus Strait, one with a child who died while the photo was taken, and other children who would die of starvation or diphtheria within hours or days.

Most captions do not personally identify the people depicted, but one exception is a photograph of Judge Elbert H. Gary (who paid $25,000 for his suite on the ship) and his wife in Madeira. Gary was the founder of U. S. Steel, and for whom the city of Gary, Indiana was named. After the cruise Gary was quoted in American papers, "I was shocked by the deplorable conditions at Constantinople, at Athens and in the Near East, where many thousands of starving refugees are huddled in rags and filth in wretched, insanitary hovels."

Fellow passenger H. A. Tallmadge, owner of the Toledo Blade newspaper, "corroborated the steel maker's description of the horrible condition of the Christian refugees in the Near East, saying that Greece is unable to handle the situation and must have more medical aid or thousands will perish."

This first cruise of the RMS Mauretania was commissioned by the American Express Travel Company, and aimed exclusively at the wealthy, with prohibitively costly ticket prices.

Advertisements announced that the Mauretania would be diverted from her regular ports "to make an epoch in cruising history." Ads ran widely in magazines including Travel, National Geographic, Country Life, The Dial, Current Opinion, Literary Digest, and elsewhere. The cruise left the Port of New York on February 10, 1923 and returned the following April.

At the time, Mauretania was the blue riband record holder for the fastest ship on the Atlantic, an honor it held for 20 years. Newspapers at the time reported the cruise was re-christened mid-voyage as "The Hundred Million Dollar Ship” due to its moneyed patrons.

The London Illustrated Police News on April 12, 1923 noted the "Ship Full of American Millionaires" was not only a costly affair but also "one of the wettest voyages made by Americans since prohibition. Considerably more than £10,000 pounds worth of liquor was consumed.". ISBN: 281AIB1036891.

Black leather covers over black pages bound with two heavy rivets. Title and original owner's name stamped with gilt on cover. Edges worn and outside hinges starting to crack. Missing 6 pages that were cut or torn out. Most photos fine, though a few are lightly scuffed. Former owner's printed address sticker on front blank reinforced with scotch tape. Scarce.

Book ID: 180325
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