Karl Lewis, Photographer, Yokohama

Karl Lewis was an interesting photographer of the last century.  Born in Kentucky in 1865, he started out working on the docks in San Francisco at an early age and then took to going to sea.  He lived all over the world, but ended up in Yokohama where he had a common-law wife he met when 17 years old, named Sasako Sadako.  He loved the view of Mt Fuji from Yokohama and started a career in photography.  He ran a small printing business from his studio, brochures and postcards, that were hand colored.  In 1905 he was 40 years old, his catalog advertised, "take any photograph, sketch or draw, produce 100 elegantly colored postcards for $1.75, including shipping."  His postcards, photographs have become very collectible.  Over the years he found sailors and the American Navy a popular subject, possibly because of sales.  My collection is small, and I am always interested in finding more from this photographer.





The United States Navy a sailors funeral

Karl Lewis photographed all facets of a sailor's life, including a burial at sea on one of the ships.  This is card #1 and #3 showing the body being interned to the sea and a bugler playing taps while the crew looks on.


russo-japanese war card

This card is No. 699 from the Russo-Japanese War.  The caption reads: "Hole made in the Russian Cruiser "ASKOLD" by a Japanese 12-inch shell.

The Askold, built by the Krupp-Germaniaweft in Kiel Germany was one of three five-funneled ships built around 1900, the other two, Vargay and Bogatyr were the other two.  Askold was one of the most active ships of the Russian Navy during the war.  Having initially been blockaded in Port Arthur after the initial attack she was damaged in the Battle of the Yellow Sea but escaped to Shanghai where she was interned until the end of the war.  After the war, in 1906 she was allowed to return to the Russian Navy and underwent dry-dock repairs in Vladivostok.  This photograph was most-likely taken while the ship was in Hong Kong shortly after sustaining the damage.


The dollar bill

Karl Lewis had a rare sense of humor for a person of the last century.  This card is typical of his humor comparing Americans to other nations who feel represented by birds and flowers.  What a foreshadowing thought that "The Emblem of American is the one dollar bill."  France has the lily, England the rose, Africa, the ostrich with it's great big toes, Scotland the  thistle it grows upon the hill, but the emblem of America is, the ONE DOLLAR BILL."

On the second card a poem about spending money, Good-Bye Mister Greenback."  Good-by Mister Greenback, I hates to see you go, It makes me sad when I part with you 'Cause my bank account am low.  If you and I should meet again, I'd say "Why how do you do" - But now I'll kiss you "Fare-thee=well, Which means, "Good-bye to you."  No. 049 Published by Karl Lewis Yokohama

life in the united states navy

These two cards are part of the humor cards that Karl Lewis published.  Both cards mailed from the USS Charleston in 1909, the first showing a scene on the mess decks when chow is being served and the cat (below the table) and the goat (knocking over the sailor) join the meal.  The second card "scrub and wash cloths" shows sailors on deck doing their laundry.


karl lewis photographs of the fleet's visit to yokohama OCT 18 - 25, 1908

The below photographs were taken by Karl Lewis during the Fleet's visit.  Possibly they were used to make postcards or just sold as photos.  These were all found mounted on pages from a photo album with no origin.




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