Showing posts from June, 2015

The Auckland Ghost

During August 1901 Aucklanders were being terrorised by a ghost. It haunted the central Auckland areas of Grafton, Eden Terrace, Newton and Western Park. The apparent apparition was heavily reported on in the newspapers and the cartoonists of the day all had a take on it as well. Even an advertising copywriter got in on the fun.

Ref: New Zealand Graphic, The white-sheeted ghost has again made its appearance in Auckland, 24 August 1901, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, NZG-19010824-367-2.

First photograph from Gallipoli

This photograph from the Auckland Weekly News Supplement (AWNS) depicts first aid being applied to an ANZAC soldier on the sloping terrain of Gaba Tepe on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April, 1915. Published on 24 June 1915, one hundred years ago today, it is considered the first newspaper image of the Gallipoli campaign and is attributed to Private Robert Blackwood Steele of the Auckland Infantry Battalion.
Ref: R.B. Steele for the Auckland Weekly News, New Zealanders in action, 24 June 1915, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19150624-35-1. 

Auckland Libraries’ war memorial libraries

At least nine of Auckland Libraries’ past or present community libraries are either war memorial buildings or have war memorial associations.
The oldest of these is the Albany Memorial Library.On Peace Day 19 July 1919 a group of Albany residents resolved to build a library as their district’s war memorial. Architect Sholto Smith designed the building. Governor-General Lord Jellicoe opened the cottage-style, half-timbered structure on 21 December 1922.
The library was approached via a stone arch with ‘1914-1918’ inscribed on the keystone. The words ‘Albany Memorial Library’ were displayed above the entrance. The east window commemorated the Great War. Inside, a brick fireplace incorporated a green marble memorial tablet listing the names of 23 local men who gave their lives during the First World War. (Another tablet was later added honouring seven dead from the Second World War.)
The building functioned as a working library until 2004, and is still available for community use today.

Bookplates: Hilda Wiseman and the Auckland Ex Libris Society

The North Auckland Research Centre is hosting an exhibition of bookplates at the Takapuna Library in the Angela Morton Art History Reading Room. The exhibition is open during library hours through until Sunday 12 July. The Angela Morton Reading Room is a very appropriate venue for this exhibition as bookplates straddle the worlds of art and literature.
The most substantial monograph on bookplates in New Zealand is In another dimensionby Ian Thwaites. He describes bookplates, or Ex Libris, as labels which are inserted into books to establish their ownership. He adds that “they are attractive items which often reflect in a unique way the personalities and interests of both owner and artist (p.9).”
In the preface of this book John Stacpoole states, “A bookplate helps to establish the provenance of a book, sometimes adding to its value, but always making a link between past and present owners whose hands have held it. It is a reminder that the owner is – or was – a real person, often the …

Comment: Auckland's Review of City Affairs

In 1950s Auckland, a group of concerned citizens decided a periodical to keep tabs on the city leadership was needed. Thus was born Comment, published by Hobson Publications. The editorial board included managing editor Charles Fisher but besides Comment itself, the only other publication from the company appears to be a Hamilton yearbook published in 1955.

Ref: Auckland City Council, Looking from the roof of a building in..., 1956-57, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-2272.

International Archives Day

Did you know that June the 9th is International Archives Day? To celebrate, archive services from around the world were invited to submit an image from their collections and send a message to archival colleagues around the world. See if you can find all the contributions from New Zealand in the photo page, according to the NZ Records email list there are nine.
Information about the gestation of International Archives Day and the reasoning behind it can be found at the International Council on Archives website. The hashtag #IAD15 was also really enjoyable to follow on Twitter throughout the day; happily Britain’s National Archives have collated them in Storify form.
All of Auckland Libraries’ Research Centres hold archival collections, as does the Birkenhead Library which is home to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery’s archive. Through sheer coincidence the subject of both of Auckland Libraries’ contributions were the personal papers of decorated war heroes.
Ref: Don Stott, D.S.O. in uniform dur…

Bridge parties: best bib and tucker affairs

Looking through the Footprints database I was surprised how many images depicting official openings of bridges there were in South Auckland. In the good old days, and even in the not so early days these ceremonies were major events on the social calendar. Everyone turned up wearing their Sunday best.
Ref: David Bryan, Opening ceremony, Clevedon wharf bridge, 1908, photograph reproduced courtesy of Clevedon and District Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 02585.


Among the many items that Auckland bibliophile Henry Shaw (1850-1928) donated to the Library early in the twentieth century are a number of Asian and Middle Eastern manuscripts purchased from London booksellers. Shaw did not share Sir George Grey's interest in philology. His chief reason for collecting these manuscripts was aesthetic rather than linguistic. He was drawn to fine calligraphy and illustration.

One of Shaw's most exquisite donations is a handwritten Quran from India, bound in lacquered paiper-mâché covers that are painted on both sides with richly coloured floral patterns. The sacred text is inscribed in black ink on a gold background within blue and gold borders. Chapter headings are written in blue and accompanied with small ornamental devices. Many pages have skillful decorations in the margins.

Ref: The Quran, 1817, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-C1914.
On one of the pages Shaw has pasted a note from a bookseller's catalogue (pro…

Luna Park

Back in the day, Auckland had its only version of New York’s Coney Island - a fully functioning amusement park on the waterfront complete with dodgems, a roller coaster, stalls and sideshows. The equipment had come from the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, a world fair that ran in Dunedin from 1925-1926. Held at Logan Park, it was most spectacular in the evening when lights highlighted the growing use of electricity. According to Te Ara, it was the most popular exhibition in New Zealand’s history.  Note the "scenic railway" to the right in the image below.

Mauku Victory Hall

There is an interesting and rather beautiful little hall in Union Road, Mauku (a semi-rural locality between Waiuku and Pukekohe). Known as the Mauku Victory Hall, this was formallyopened by Governor-General Viscount Jellicoe on 7 June 1922.
Ref: Bruce Ringer, Mauku Victory Hall, August 2014.