history of the two "Ls":
"About my photographs one will talk still in 200 years!"
is searching in Cairo for books or magazines in German, English or French
language, for sure one day he will find his way to the bookshop "Lehnert
& Landrock" in Downtown. This shop is like an institution with a
long and eventful history. It is the history of some capital "Ls".
The story of the lifes of Rudolf Franz Lehnert and Ernst Heinrich Landrock
as well as of Kurt and finally Dr. Edouard Lambelet. The doctor in geology
today is the owner of the famous shop.
still nowadays books are in the centre of the shop in the Sharia Sherif, one
department attracts more and more attention: the art gallery in the back rooms.
This is a real treasury for lovers of old photographs. Here they find an endless
number of original prints and the latest thing there is the first of two CDs
with pictures, shot by photographer Lehnert in the beginning of the last century
in Egypt, North Africa and Palestine. With this photographs the history of
the bookshop "Lehnert und Landrock" started. An exciting story that
Dr. Edouard Lambelet (picture above) told us and that we like to present you
here in a short version.
Magic of the Orient
– The Austrian photographer Rudolf Franz Lehnert and the German accounter
Ernst Heinrich Landrock meet each other in Switzerland. Lehnert has just returned
from his first trip by feet through the desert and the southern oases of Tunisia,
where he took photographs and got his first idea about the magic of the Orient.
Landrock immediately "smells" a good business with this pictures,
joins Lehnert to Tunis and rents a shop there.
1904 – "About my photographs people will still
talk after 200 years!" This sentence Lehnert points his oppinion out
to his friend, who - terribly impatiently - accuses him for his two months
long desert safari in Tunisia. Since weeks Landrock is waiting for the photographs.
But the rich pickings at least bring the expected success: The photographs
are published in Leipzig/Germany, some of them - as forcasted by Lehnert -
reached worldwide fame.
1914 – Lehnert starts another caravan trip, he rents
camels to carry his heavy photographer equipment, dresses himself like the
bedouins, lives according the strong rules of the desert. When he returns
to Tunis, he is schocked: In the meantime the outbreak of the First World
War took place, their shop was confiscated, Landrock according to the German-French
agreement as not fit for military service is interned to Engelberg in Switzerland.
Because of his Austrian citizenship - he was born in 1879 in Grossaupa/Bohemia
- Lehnert becomes a prisoner of war. First in Algeria, later on the island
Corsica. Thanks to the efforts of Landrock he then is interned in Davos/Switzerland
and later released.
war starts a time of changings. The two friends meet their intended wives.
Eugenie "Jenny" Schmitt becomes Mrs. Lehnert, Emilie Singer-Lambelet
Mrs. Landrock, with her arrives Kurt Lambelet, a son she gave birth during
her first marriage.
– Because Behemia now belongs to Czechoslovakia (allied with France),
Lehnert's citizenship changes to Czech, and he gets back all his photographs.
1920 – Lehnert and Landrock meet in Leipzig, establish
the "Orient Kunst Verlag", export many lithographs of coloured desert
pictures for hard Dollars to South Africa.
1923 – Lehnert takes photographs in Egypt, Palestine
1924 – The couple Landrock with Kurt Lambelet and Madame
Eugenie Lehnert with daughter Eliane move to Egypt. In October they establish
in Cairo the wholesaler's "Lehnert & Landrock", rent a shop.
Landrock orders in Dresden, Berlin and Leipzig coloured engravings and by
hand coloured photographs, delivered to Cairo packed in 200 boxes. But the
business runs slowly, the profit is low, they have to take out a loan of LE
2.000 that cannot be repaid completely before 1948. The marketing problems
are calling for a shift in thinking. "Lehnert & Landrock" switchs
to sell their products - photographs, postcards and art prints - directly
in a new shopping location.
1930 – Lehnert becomes not familiar with the noisy
capital Cairo, he is longing for the magic of the Arabic palaces of Tunis.
On 15th of June he splits up with Landrock, leaves the copyright for his photographs
to the company "L & L, Nachf. Ernst Landrock" and returns to
Tunis. There he opens a photographic atelier and soon makes a names of a respected
1934 – Landrock directs the shop in close connection
with his stepson Kurt Lambelet, who marries the Greece Julie Georgacopulo
and is promoted as an associate.
1936 – Opening of the new wholesale and retail shop
in Madabegh street 44 (today named Sherif street and still the main location
of "Lehnert & Landrock"), that until 1939 will expand every
year and become one of the most famous German book and art shops.
1937 – Birth of Landrock's stepgrandson Edouard.
1938 – For the first time in 14 years Landrock spends
his holidays in Germany. He makes out the threat of the war, returns to Cairo
and sells 80 per cent of the company to Kurt Lambelet. Starting from the 28th
of September the company's name is "L & L Succ. Ernst Landrock &
War and revolution
– During the outbreak of the World War II the couple Landrock again
stays in Germany - for their last journey, they never will see Egypt again.
In the same year Lehnert stops his professional activities and withdraws into
his house in Carthage.
In Cairo the British close the supposed German shop, but the efforts of the
forceful Kurt Lambelet with reference to his citizenship of Switzerland enable
him to get his 80 per cent share back. But he has to adjust on the modified
situation, has to be flexible. Therefore he offers local products like leather
and silver jewelleries to the allied soldiers. Because imported items from
Germany are forbidden, from England rationed, and he is only allowed to rint
in the then very poor local printing houses.
1944 – After his wife passes away Lehnert lives in
the house of his daughter and son-in-law in Redeyef in the oasis Gafa.
1945 – The English sequesters hand over the 20 per
cent share of Landrock to Egypt. On 19th of November Lambelet buys this share,
registers the company now by the name "Lehnert & Landrock, K. Lambelet
1946 – Lambelet starts to re-organize the bookshop,
expands it with technical specialized literature in English language, to re-establish
the German department.
1948 – On 16th of January Lehnert passes away in Redeyef,
is layed to rest in his adoptive country beside his wife in Carthage.
1952 – The revolution in Egypt makes everything in
the country and the world of business upside down. A national uprising sets
Cairo in fire, destroys shops owned by foreigners. Dr. Edouard Lambelet remembers:
"Our Nubian employees rescued our bookshop from destruction. They protected
it, as if it was their own property. Without our loyal Nubians we would have
lost our shop. It was the most difficult time for us."
1954 – General Gamal Abdel Nasser takes over the rulership
from General Mohamed Naguib, becomes President of the Arabic Republic of Egypt.
1956 – All big companies are nationalised. But good
luck for Lehnert & Landrock, the company is too small. On 1st of January,
1965, Kurt Lambelet with Edouard and his leading employee Georges Angelidis
as a partner are founding the "L & L. K. Lambelet & Co."
. Edouard Lambelet leaves Egypt, absolves in Switzerland his highschool diploma
and military service and his university studies of geology in Hamburg/Germany.
In Heidelberg he meets Roswitha Götz, student of 'Romance languages and
literature, and marries her.
1966 – Ernst Landrock passes away on 30th of April
Restlessnes, movement, hidden treasures
– It becomes more and more difficult to get the licence for imported
items. Thanks to his connections the Egyptian Farid El-Bahnassawi can get
the urgently needed licence for "L & L" and make arrangements
for the money transfers. Kurt Lambelet hires him, but therefore he looses
Georges Angelidis. And then something totally unexpected happens: on behalf
of the the good word of the former Minister of Culture Sarwat Okasha after
40 years a request to open a branch in the Egyptian Museum gets an approval.
"L & L" expands its offers of books in the touristic field in
German, English, French, Italian and Spanish language. 1984 Japanese, 1995
Russian languages are added.
1975 – After employments as a geologist with oil companies
in Spain and Holland, Dr. Edouard returns in his profession back to Egypt.
1978 – His father calls on him, to join their company
fulltime. After some doubts Edouard agrees, starts his new job in 1st of January.
1979 – Kurt Lambelet gets the Egyptian citizenship,
on 9th of July the new company "L & L, K. Lambelet, El-Bahnassawi
& Co." is registered. They print again in Egypt, mainly with the
printing house Nubar. The postcards printed there nearly reach European quality.
The demand for art prints is increasing, the department for touristic books
develops to one of the best in the country.
1982 – In a store Dr. Edouard Lambelet discovers the
hidden treasures of the family, hundreds of historical glasplates with photographs
of Rudolf Franz Lehnert covered in dust. He starts to clean, to sort, to categorize.
With the help of a photographer and an old laboratory he develops and prints
the first shots in the old working method.
1984 – In November the author and journalist Philippe
Cardinal publishes an article about the discovery in the French newspaper
1986 – Cardinal also publishes a portfolio with 20
photographs printed in the old method in the Institut d’Orient in Paris.
In several French cities exhibitions are organized, Lehnert's daughter Eliane
Bernet, she lives meanwhile in Uzes in the south of France, supports Lambelet
with some photographs of her father. From 12th of September until 3rd of November
1991 the work of Lehnert is exhibited in the Musée de l’Elysée
1985 – Farid El-Bahnassawi retires, the flourishing
business continues under the new company name "L & L, Kurt &
Edouard Lambelet". Kurt is responsible for the traditional department
of the art prints with its postcards, calendars, books, posters and prints
on genuine papyrus. Edouard gives his attention to the bookshop, from time
to time writes and publishes touristic
books himself. His wife Roswitha manages the branch in the Egyptian Museum.
1987 – The publishing house Editions Favre, Lausanne,
publishes the book "Lehnert & Landrock, l’Orient d’un
photographe" of Philippe Cardinal.
1997 – On 11th of March Kurt Lambelet passes away in
the age of almost 92 years, is burried in Rüschlikon at Lake Zurich.
As his father would have approve, again the company name changes, is called
now "L & L, Edouard Lambelet & Co.". Co. stands for Roswitha
Lambelet and daughter Eveline.
1995 – By chance Dr. Lambelet meets with the Canadian
photographer Chris Langtvet, a lover of historical photographs. Lambelet and
Langtvet – again two L‘s! – they clicked, they agreed to
work together. The ambitious Langtvet sets up a photographic laboratory in
Cairo, studies the old method of developing and starts with the tedious reproduction
of the large old negatives in original size. So Lehnert's work of life can
be preserved for prosterity.
1999 – The result of the strenuous and tiring work
for the first time shows up in the public limelight: in the "Mubarak
Public Library", in the Goethe Institute in Cairo and in the "Institute
for Foreign Relations" in Stuttgart/Germany. Since this time Edouard
and Roswitha Lambelet concentrate more and more on the photographs, organize
smaller and bigger exhibitions.
2003 – The first CD with Lehnert's photographs is available
(for details click here). Now everybody
(unfortunately Windows users only) can compile his personal exhibition on
the computer. A new chapter in the history of the old photographs has started.