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Saunders film collection

  • F3028
  • Collection
  • 1932-1936

At the end of 1930 William Eric Pentland Saunders, late of the Indian Army, and his wife, Margaret Helen Saunders, née Inverarity, set out westward from England on a trip around the world. Eric and Maisie embarked on the USS Leviathan at Southampton on December 16, 1930 and returned to England, via Ostend, on about June 11, 1935. They were accompanied throughout by Ivy Vanderplank who was in their employ.

Upon arrival in New York City (December 24, 1930) Maisie bought a Kodak 16mm movie camera. The majority of the films were shot by Maisie, though there are brief glimpses of her in a couple of films, when someone else, likely Eric, took the camera. The numbering of the surviving films suggests that in the course of her trip around the world she produced at least one hundred and twenty-nine reels. She produced another seven 400-foot reels upon her return to the United Kingdom. Most of the films have disappeared, a few have merely not been salvageable. The collection therefore consists of twenty-four 400-foot films, seventeen from the trip around the world and eight from the period after the Saunders' return to the United Kingdom.

The earliest surviving reel shows Peking in January 1932; the latest shows England in the summer of 1936. There are no surviving films from the first year of the Saunders' travels. The majority of the films from the trip around the world refer to the last year of the Saunders' travels -- that is, in the Middle East and Europe in 1934 and 1935.

The Saunders toured Japan until early in January 1932, when they took a ferry to Korea. They made their way overland to Manchuria, freshly occupied by Japan, then down to Peking, where the first of the extant films (24) finds them. The next surviving film (26) begins in Shanghai, where the Saunders party arrived, apparently by ship, during the last phase of the fighting between the Chinese and Japanese (February 1932. The film also shows the group's departure on the USS President Coolidge and its arrival in Hong Kong. Maisie Saunders's films of her party's subsequent travels in French Indochina, the Dutch East Indies and Ceylon and their long sojourn in Australia have all been lost. One film (59) survives from the Saunders's months in New Zealand.

Of stylistic note: many of the films are being shot from inside/on board vehicles. The hood ornaments of their various cars are often visible in the shot.

Saunders, Margaret (Maisie) Helen Strickland