CARYN L. LEUTERITZ
Luderitz in Africa
Glass lens, antique photo, copper, brass, sterling silver, and CZs
4 x 4 inches
Photographed by Emelee Pellini
I was born Caryn L. Leuteritz. As I was growing up I heard stories of a long lost Relative who had grown up in Germany and then emigrated to Africa to find fame and fortune. The story I was told is that he had sailed to South Eastern Africa looking for gold and diamonds but ended up making his fortune in guano which was valuable as fertilizer.
As I was deciding to focus on Franz Adolf Eduard Luderitz and his history I did some research. Franz Adolf was born in Bremen on July 16 , 1834 to a tobacco merchant and his wife . As a young man he worked in his father’s business which took him to the US and Mexico. By circumstance he went bankrupt. In 1881 he set up a factory in Lagos in British West Africa but this also was not successful.
Determined to stay in Africa and make good he partnered with a fellow German and bought some land to set up a colony for other Germans who were looking to leave Germany. He named this colony Ludertizland.He continued to buy land until he owned the entire coastal strip from South Africa to Angola. In order to make more income he sent mining engineers to search for exploitable minerals deposits but found neither gold or diamonds. This endeavor depleted his funds completely and he had to sell his colony in 1885.
To recover income from his properties he sent off with three others in a boat down the Orange River toward the Atlantic Ocean. The boat he was riding in disappeared and was never seen again. Shortly after this Diamonds were found in the area and a local missionary threw a handful of them on the ground and declared, “ These have never done any country any good! “
My first knowledge of Adolf was visiting my grandparents in Long Island and playing with a very large German floor globe and seeing the town of Luderitz in Africa which is now in Nambia. I was then told the story of his adventures and realized that the spelling of our name had been changed when we came to America.
I did not have a picture of Adolfso I took an antique photograph of a young man from the same era and doctored it to look like Adolf. When I dedicated my career to metalsmithing I was somewhat sad that Adolf Luderitz had not found gold and diamonds