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1 ALFRED WILLIAM LAFONE 1909 - 1910 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT JOURNAL AND NOTEBOOK OF A YOUNG BRITISH MAN SENT BY HIS FATHER TO SOUTHEAST ASIA TO ANALYZE AND PURCHASE RUBBER AND TEA PLANTATIONS
CEYLON SRI LANKA MALAYA MALAYSIA SUMATRA JAVA 1909 Good 
On offer is an original, sensational October 14th 1909 through April 2nd 1910 manuscript diary detailing a six month visit to Ceylon [Sri Lanka], Malaya [Malaysia], Sumatra, Java, Singapore and Calcutta, India. Of great significance are detailed reports on twenty-nine tea, rubber and sugar plantations handwritten by the author Alfred William Lafone (b. 1853) wherein he writes on 68 pp of the 85 pp folio notebook. The first sixteen pages consist of a businesslike diary of the trip, starting at Charing Cross Station, London, on 14 October 1909, and ending with Lafone's return 'home' on 2 April 1910, to be 'met by Father' (i.e. the one-time Conservative MP for Bermondsey Alfred Lafone (1821-1911) of Hanworth Park, Hounslow). It would appear that the younger Lafone has been sent out to report on plantations with a view to the purchase of one by his father. He writes on May 25th 1910: 'Handed cable from home by Huttenbacks "If Title Good, labour sufficient 500 yearly 1000 if required on good properties."' Lafone records his travels from place to place by boat, train, motor car and on horseback. He notes down the names of fellow travellers (for example, on 14 November 1909: 'Mr & Mrs Tate [of Tate and Lyle?] also on board. Also Douglas Osborne tin miner who put me down for the Club. Davie Bishop of Singapore, Davison who stopped at E & Ott with me. Josselyn.') He swims, plays tennis, and golf (at the course of the Grand Hotel, Newra Elya [Nuwara Eliya], and at Penang). At a tobacco factory at Paya Djamboe he sees 'the Chinese stapling & sorting the leaf'. The references to India and Singapore are brief, and the main body of the item is devoted to the plantations. Each of the thirty estates has its own entry, the whole covering forty-nine pages. Those visited are as follows. In Ceylon: Troy Estate (Ceylon Proprietary Co.); Sunnycroft (Sunnygama Tea & Rubber Cos.); Kiribatgalla; Ambadeniya; Edinborough [sic] Tea Estate; Culloden Rubber Estate; R. P. K. (Kalubara district). In Malaya: Caledonia (Penang Sugar Co.); Prye (rubber, sugar, coconut); Batukawan; Straits (Bertams); Jebong (Perak); Linggi Plantations (Bukit Nanas Estate); Sungei Buloh; Ledbury Co. (Estate Sione); Batu Caves; Consolidated Malay; Lallang Estate; Mallacca Estates. In Sumatra: Simpang Sumatra Rubber Estate; Mr. Pinckneys Estate (private, rubber only); Lang Kat (Sumatra) Rubber Co.; Deli Sumatra (Laut Tador); Tandjong (Kassau). In Malaya again: United Serdang; United Langkat Tobacco Co.; Late British Deli & Langkat; Sealing Rubber Estates (Tebbi Tingi). In Java: Tjiseroe Estate. In India: Bokel Estate (tea). With each entry Lafone notes the proprietor of the estate, its manager, and location, as well as salient facts such as altitude, acreage, drainage, nature and price of labour, rainfall, altitude, tapping. Each entry has a final paragraph summing up his view. Of the Late British Deli & Langkat: 'Placing an Englishman in charge when all the assistants were Dutch was a mistake'. Of the Batu Kawan: 'The policy to follow on this Estate is to either plant cocoa nuts only This is a safe or sound investment. The alternative is to reconstruct the factory & utilise say 2000 acres for cane & the rest for cocoanuts but no rubber | [the following added in pencil] To put it briefly this is a wretched estate - [signed] A. W. Lafone | 23/11/09'. Following an account (with brief chronology and statistics) of the way in which, on the Bokel Tea Estate, India, the 'old tea is being abandoned & new tea being put out at rate of about 25 acres per acre': 'The mistake in the past has been to take everything out of the garden & put nothing into it. There should be at least 10% renewals or additional clearances every year'. The entry for the Linggi Plantations contains a diagram headed '1/4 of tree', showing the process of tapping. The last three pages carry names and addresses. A few entries in another hand; perhaps Lafone's son? 32 x 20 cm. 36 lines to the page. Text clear and complete. Internally tight and sound, on lightly spotted and aged paper. Worn marbled boards and enpapers, with loss and splitting to red leather spine. Overall 
Price: 4895.99 USD
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