Because it is a unique souvenir of the German colonial period let’s focus on the card first rather than the man. It was almost certainly made at Apia’s only commercial printing company, the “Samoanische Zeitung,” on Beach Rd. The initials “F.M.” can be seen on the bottom right of the first page of hand-drawn artwork and inscription (photo right). This would have been F.Muller, one of the staff members of the Zeitung. The art is workmanlike, free of excessive ornamentation, and displays a competent watercolour wash on the tree and border. It was perfect for the occasion.
The inscription, written in capital letters, reads as follows: “To Captain Kurt Hufnagel. We, the undersigned settlers of the protectorate of Samoa, take the opportunity of the occasion of your retiring from your official profession to give voice to the feeling of admiration and respect that you have earned throughout your life in our community. You have travelled on your path calmly and serenely, a great man, constantly led by the thought of serving the human interests of the community. In the thirty five years that you lived and worked in Samoa, the pressing duties called you to act as a true son of the German nation and as an active citizen of our colony. Your service to the Fatherland is rewarded by the favour of the Kaiser, and the story of our island will be made known in the future. Your sense of public spirit has been revealed in the way you have sought and found many opportunities to help and promote the good of the individual and the community as a whole. This card we have signed is evidence of our gratitude and we wish you a long life full of peace and joy.”
Credit: Translation by Kathleen Edmonds, photographs T.Brunt.
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