Specializing in
Rare Books and Manuscripts
on Spain, Portugal and their former overseas possessions
Latin America, Brazil, Africa and Asia

[Companhia Real dos Caminhos de Ferro Atravez d’Africa]

Memoria explicativa e descriptiva dos actos e da situação da Companhia Real . . .


Porto, Officinas do “Commercio do Porto,” 1909.


Folio.  234, II pp.  With 2 maps (1 double p.), 44 photographic plates & 1 folding plate and, tipped in, photocopy of the printed letter from the Company justifying its financial situation.  Quarter calf (slightly scuffed).   Lacking plate facing p. 180, as does the British Library copy;  this appears to be a duplicate of that facing p. 40.   Original wrappers bound in (short tear in inner margin of front wrapper, upper & lower corners of wrappers & upper corner of ff. [1 & 2] repaired).   Some occasional slight browning.

A report justifying the precarious state of the finances of the company building the railway across Angola.   “The fiasco of the Luanda railway company was an even more bitter lesson.   With an eye to the 'effective occupation' of central Africa, the government proposed a contract in 1885 to any genuinely Portuguese company which would build a railway eastwards from Luanda.   The government guaranteed the payment of interest on debenture capital raised for construction, as well as a subsidy if operating profits fell below a certain level.   The contract was taken up by a group of Oporto businessmen, prominent in trade and railway financing in the Iberian peninsula, who already had the concession to supply Luanda with water.   The company adopted the grand name of Royal Trans-African Railway Company, but was unable to scrape together more than £616,000 out of the nominal share issue of £800,000 . . .   Rapid inflation and currency depreciation nearly halved the real value of government subsidies.   The company somewhat incautiously lent the state £400,000 at 4.5 interest, and was unable to get its money back, causing one of the most famous financial scandals of the time. . .   Company and government became locked in an ever more acrimonious legal dispute, while the railway, poorly constructed in the first place, deteriorated.   It was left to the republicans to nationalise the line in 1918.   The whole sorry affair cost the Portuguese taxpayer nearly £2 million between 1889 and 1910”  (Gervase Clarence-Smith, The third Portuguese Empire, pp. 98-99).  

Not in Innocêncio or Mendelssohn.


Place an order