In September 2019, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) acquired a unique photographic collection of rare, historic, original photographs dating from the 1860s to the 1997 Hong Kong Handover from FormAsia Books. The series is named as the “Frank Fischbeck Collection” and owned by Mr Frank Fischbeck, Managing Director of FormAsia Books.
Frank is a photojournalist who personally took about one-third of the photos in the Collection. He settled in Hong Kong in the 1970s and used photography to document the development of Hong Kong for subsequent decades, including close-up photos of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Hong Kong in the 1970s, and a dinner party at the Government House before the British retreat. Together with his extensive travels throughout the region, this has resulted in a collection of some 24,000 images that have recorded and preserved Hong Kong’s modern history as well as the immense diversity of Asia’s cultural heritage.
Extending his career into publishing through FormAsia Books, Frank has also acquired and curated more than 1,200 sepia photographs that form part of the Collection, and which meticulously document Hong Kong’s history from the 1860s to the 1960s, resulting in a visual record of the city’s evolution from its earliest years to the present day.
“Images associated with politics are the hardest ones to capture. Experience taught me to dress appropriately for the occasion. I had to place myself in the shoes of the attendees, that I don’t stand out as a journalist or photographer but blend into the audience and that I am, as far as possible, unobtrusive.” said Frank Fischbeck.
The Frank Fischbeck Collection consists of a number of discrete sub-collections comprising:
- Albumen/Silver/Gelatin Original Photographs (1,000)
- Rare Albumen Prints (125)
- Historic Panorama Prints (20)
- The Black & White Collection: 8,000 Photographs with Original Negatives
- The Colour Collection: 15,000 Transparencies
- High-Resolution Digital Files (5,000)
HKU Libraries is presenting a soft launch exhibition of the “Hong Kong Historical Photos from the Frank Fischbeck Collection” online at https://www.ffchk2020.hku.hk.
The online exhibition at HKU highlights a small segment of the Collection based on Frank’s personal choices through the following six themes, and with his commentary provided for each image.
- The Early Years
- Occupation and Liberation of Hong Kong
- 1967 Disturbances
- Air Land and Sea
- Path to 1997
To process the Collection and make it available to Hong Kong and the world, the HKU Libraries will store, preserve, catalogue, digitise and maintain the Collection. The Libraries will also add to and update the Collection, currently with over 3,000 images, regularly via the Digital [email protected].
“The HKU Libraries will utilize the Collection for contributing to society and academia through exhibitions, digital access and other means of nurturing interest in Hong Kong’s rich history, and we will ensure that the Collection remains a cultural asset for Hong Kong and the world for future generations,.” said HKU University Librarian Mr Peter Sidorko.
The acquisition of the collection has been made possible through a series of generous donations from benefactors including the WYNG Foundation and the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation, who are eager to see the collection remain in Hong Kong, intact and based at the University of Hong Kong.
Other donors include The Swire Group Charitable Trust, Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation Limited and the Simon K Y Lee Foundation Limited.
Please download some photo highlights here: