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Distinguished publisher turned author by banking on “Lao Postcards”


Among the rows of books by White Lotus Press in Bangkok and other regional bookshops, two recently published books stand out, as the distinguished publisher, German Diethard Ande, appears as author in a series about “Lao Postcards” namely: 

Ande, Diethard (Bangkok, 2015)

Lao Postcards by Alfred Raquez: A Collection of His 166 Postcards from 1906, With Alfred Raquez in Laos: An Appraisal by Joachim K. Bautze and Twelve other contributions by Philippe Drillien, Didier Cabiddu, Dominique Geay, William Lloyd Gibson. 334 pp., illus, 32 pp. in color, 210 x 295 mm, pbk.

Ande, Diethard (Bangkok, 2017)

Lao Postcards by Houel, Barbat, Mottet & Others: Old Postcards Series Vol.2: Laos, With contributions by William Lloyd Gibson (on Raquez’s identity), Philippe Drillien, and Dominique Geay-Drillien. 200 pp., illus, 16 pp. in color, 210 x 295 mm, pbk.

Especially noteworthy is a vivid description of French Alfred Raquez collection of 166 postcards about Laos, which he sold to accompany his famous book “Pages Laotiennes” (Hanoi 1902) at the 1906 Colonial Exposition in Marseille. These postcards are still highly sought after by collectors, and it is due to postcard collectors such as Diethard Ande that he is remembered at all. For the French book, there is an English translation and an introduction made by Walter E. J. Tips published by White Lotus Press (Bangkok 2012) called “Around Laos in 1900: A Photographer’s Adventures.”

Actually, Alfred Raquez’ was the pseudonym of Joseph Gervais, a bankrupt French lawyer who fled to the Far East in the late 1890s and had access to some of the powerful colonial players in French Indochina. He wrote prolifically about China and Indochina, took some of the earliest photographs of Laos and made the earliest field sound recordings in that land. He died under mysterious circumstances in Marseille in 1907.

His complete bibliography is the following:

  • Alfred Raquez, Pages Laotiennes (Notes de voyages), Hanoï, F.-H. SCHNEIDER IMPRIMEUR-EDITEUR, 1902
  • Alfred Raquez, Entrée gratuite, Saigon, Claude et Cie, 1903
  • Alfred Raquez, Joseph Ferrière, Georges Garros, Alfred Meynard, L’Indo-Chine 1906, Publication faite sous les auspices du Gouvernement Général de l’Indo-Chine, Exposition intercoloniale, Falque, 1906

Thanks to the pioneering work by Diethard Ande, even the first book of Raquez “In The Land of Pagodas”: A Classic Account of Travel in Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai, Hubei, Hunan andGuizhou was edited and translated by William L. Gibson and Paul Bruthiaux (Singapore, Nias Press 2016). Surprisingly, Laos comes alive after more than 100 years!

Written by : Reinhard Hohler