Monday, 20 March 2017

Colonial Tinder

Matrimonial agencies and personal ads were the colonial era equivalent of today’s dating apps like Tinder. In 1885 the owner of Auckland’s only agency, Thomas Hannaford, claimed to have found 115 wives for socially isolated men. He was particularly proud of encouraging “many respectable English girls to wed Maori Chiefs” who were subsequently “living lovingly together”. He felt his match-making skills helped promote “the fusion of the races” and he petitioned Parliament to recognise his expertise in this area (Star, 16 July 1885).


Hannaford started finding potential life partners for gentlemen in 1868. He also married people at “any day or hour they like.” His Queen Street offices were open for business between 10.00 am and 9.00 pm. Although scandal didn’t brew over such quickie marriage ceremonies here; in Australia, Holt’s Matrimonial Agency was known to marry “under age teenagers without permission, bigamists or some even so drunk that they didn’t realise that they were getting married.”

Monday, 13 March 2017

Mary Scott, 1888 - 1979

I discovered a Mary Scott display in Pirongia on a recent road trip following a compulsory coffee stop plus a walk across the highway to the Pirongia Heritage & Information Centre / Te Whare Taonga o Ngaa Rohe o Arekahanara.

Ref: Mary Scott display, Pirongia, 22 February 2017.

A Notable Display

The display features a gingham frame and artefacts from Scott’s writing life – notably her third typewriter. The adjacent bookcase features her prolific output. They even had some editions for sale. We left with It’s perfectly easy – one of Mary Scott’s great titles published by Paul’s Book Arcade in Hamilton, 1962. The striking dust jacket was designed by Geoffrey Ridall.

Ref: Mary Scott, It's perfectly easy.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

No description is equal to an actual leaf

Currently on display in the Special Collections reading room, in the Central Library, is a single leaf from a 13th century Latin Bible generously donated to the Library by Keith Stuart late last year.

Stuart, an archivist trained in biblical research presented a paper to ANZBS Conference in 2010 which included a detailed description of the leaf.

Described as a typical leaf from a Paris manuscript Bible it is roughly the same size as a sheet of A4. This is much larger than a Bible we may be familiar with pulling from the back of a pew, but is not especially large for a medieval Bible. As Stuart notes, the size of Bibles became smaller with the rise of Mendicant orders and their travelling preachers, so portability became important.

The text is in Latin, from Saint Jerome’s translation of the Hebrew and is from the first book of Kings, chapter 4 verse 19 to chapter 8 verse 22. It tells of the Ark of the Covenant in Philistine through to Israel’s demand for a King.

The leaf provides a significant example of a leaf from a thirteenth century Bible. It is hand written in a small gothic script on thin vellum. The thinness of the vellum can be seen in the text showing through from the other side. It also reflects the artistry of books of the period contrasting coloured lettering and fine pen work.