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Photograph Album of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. Kimberley, South Africa 1899-1905

Identifier: SC MS 0230

Scope and Contents

The photographs of five mines: DeBeers, Dutoitspan, Kimberley, Wesselton and Bultfontein Mine with captions as well as mining equipment, ore processing and diamond matrix ore are pasted to the board pages. There is no alphabetic or chronological sequence displayed and no absolute certainty as to the photographer considering that some of the photographs are described as being taken from a time before Mr. Fuller was in South Africa. There is also a list of the mine managers for the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. Five managers: Alpheus F. Williams (De Beers General Manager), C. M. Henrotin, A. F. Brigham, John T. Fuller, H. T. Dickinson were educated in United States universities with Brigham and Fuller both from Lehigh. There is a title page in which John T. Fuller gave the title to the collection and acknowledged “Presented to Department of Mines Lehigh University” however, no date is indicated. Since Mr. Fuller returned to the United States in 1905 presumably that is a seemly date for the scrapbook


  • Creation: 1899-1905


Biographical / Historical

John Torrey Fuller (1880-1939) graduated from Lehigh University with the Class of 1903 in mining engineering. Upon graduation he went to work in South Africa’s diamond mines at Kimberley for the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. where he managed the Dutoitspan (DuToit’s Pan) Mine, one of the largest in the world. He became an expert in diamond mining and specially consulted on the topic of diamond mining in Arkansas. He left South Africa in 1905 to join the Aluminum Company of America. It is presumed that he gave the scrapbook of photographs to Lehigh’s Mining Department around that time. Another Lehigh alumnus (Class of 1894) working for De Beers at the same time was Alexander Fay Brigham (1872-1949), who was manager of the Wesselton Mine which is recorded on the first pages in the album followed by the Dutoitspan Mine and other mine information. Early in his life Mr. Brigham worked for Thomas Alva Edison but later entered Lehigh to study mining engineering. He first worked in the anthracite fields of Pennsylvania and in 1901 became associated with Cecil Rhodes in connection with Rhode’s development of the mineral resources in South Africa. In 1903 he became manager of the Wesselton Mine and later the Jagersfontein Diamond Mine until 1918 when he and his family returned to North America. He became manager of the Hollinger Consolidated Gold Mines in Timmons, Ontario, Canada until retiring in1932. Three of the mines: Bultfontein, Dutoitspan and Wesselton, are historic mines at the heart of the diamond rush in the Kimberley region which started in 1869. In 1888 the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd was founded by organizing the many individual mines in one governing unit. By 1890 these three mines became known as the Kimberley Underground Mines being located within the city of Kimberley. De Beers closed them in 2005


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Language of Materials



This collection of photographs records the careers of two Lehigh alumni in mining engineering and illustrate the diamond mining procedures in South Africa of the world’s most famous mining conglomerate – De Beers, from 1899 to 1905.


The photographic arrangement presumed made by John T. Fuller, Lehigh University alumnus Class of 1903, is based on photographs of the five specific mines. Beneath each photograph is typed text explaining each photograph. The 43 photographs begin with the Wesselton Mine which was the mine managed by Alexander F. Brigham who was a Lehigh University alumnus Class of 1894 and ends with the Bultfontein Mine explosion of a “floating reef” known as Mount Ararat removed in 1901.

Physical Description

Photographic album measures 30.5 x 24.5 x 3.25 cm black leather binding with pebbled surface, spine is damaged and front cover separated from binding. On the back cover is a label: Handel House Ltd., Stationery and Music Warehouse, Kimberley. There are 25 pages composed of board on which are pasted 43 photographs with typed text labels. Inside the front cover are pasted diagrams of an Ideal Section Through Diamond Mine. The five diagrams are drawn in black, red, green ink and labeled: Before Discovery, First Stage, Second Stage, Intermediate Stage, 1st and 2nd, Ideal Section Through Diamond Mine, Third Stage; also there is a red ink: Lehigh University Oct 3 1963 Library stamp. The 43 photographs measure approximately 15 x 20.25 cm and are of a warm hued glossy gelatin or collodion printing out image process.


Photograph Album of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. Kimberley, South Africa 1899-1905
Ilhan Citak and Eleanor Nothelfer
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)