22 December 2012

Recent Acquisitions III: Boswell to the South Pole

[With Christmas just around the corner, my final post of 2012 highlights some of the year's notable purchases made by the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library. I'll be back in 2013 with more Antipodean bibliographic news.]

James Boswell. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Dublin: Printed by John Chambers for R. Cross, W. Wilson, [et al], 1792; three volumes.
The first Dublin and second overall edition of James Boswell's classic biography of Samuel Johnson. The text was produced quickly by having a separate printer print each volume in an effort to undersell the genuine edition, which appeared in London the previous year. The second London edition published in 1793 followed the Dublin three-volume octavo format.

According to Frederick Pottle, while a number of typographical errors found in the 1791 first London edition were here corrected, others were introduced (Pottle 80).

Purchased from Blackwell's, Oxford, December 2012.

F. A. Pottle. The Literary Career of James Boswell Esq.: Being the Bibliographical Materials for a Life of Boswell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967 reprint).

Breviary leaf, Latin. Bohemia, ca. 1420 to 1450.
This single, illuminated leaf with a five-line initial 'D' containing a bearded figure dressed in a green tunic, is the first example of Bohemian manuscript production to be added to the Reed manuscripts collection.

The design was influenced by manuscripts illuminated for the court of King Wenceslas IV (13611419), with its use of silver to heighten the border decorations, and acanthus leaves extending into the margins with angles marked in gold.

Fitting for this time of year, the text is from the first Sunday in Advent.

Purchased from Maggs, January 2012.

Alan Loney. RISE: Governors Bay Sept / Nov 2000. Newark, VT: Janus Press, 2003.
The Library has been collecting private press books since the 1980s. Today new acquisitions focus mainly on New Zealand private presses, and books produced overseas with New Zealand content.

This poem by the New Zealand poet-printer Alan Loney may be read as paginated, but it is also intended for random browsing – and so was bound with two spines and three panels, so the alternating pages can be accessed from either direction.

In the centre of the book is a colour photographic illustration of Governors Bay, Canterbury, New Zealand, taken by Claire Van Vliet, founder of the Janus Press. According to Ruth Fine's catalogue raisonné The Janus Press, Fifty Years (2006), Van Vliet made the translucent tan paper fly-leaves 'from abaca pulp prepared with seawater by Bernie Vinzani', a master paper maker based in Maine. The binding was inspired by New Zealand bookbinder Elizabeth Steiner's Gioia II (2002) and executed by Audrey Holden.

An unnumbered copy out of 150 printed, this particular copy is from the library of Andrew Hedden, notable collector of press books and livres d'artiste.

Purchased from Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts, November 2012.

Robert McNab. Murihiku and the Southern Islands. [Invercargill: William Smith, Printer, 1906].
Described by T. M. Hocken as 'a mass of old history', Robert McNab's Murihiku tells the early history of New Zealand's South Island and the adjacent islands.

Murihiku was continually reworked by McNab. It initially appeared in 1904 as Murihiku: Some Old Time Events, a collection of twelve articles originally published in the Southern Standard. These were reprinted along with an additional thirteen articles the following year. In 1906 McNab was ready to publish a new edition. Mcnab, however, had gathered so much new material from a research trip to America that he decided to scrap the edition. Ending on page 144, all but six of the 600 copies in mid production were destroyed (Bagnall M568). A replacement edition of 1,000 copies covering the years 1770 to 1829 was produced in 1907, followed in 1909 by an expanded edition covering 1642 to 1835 produced in a smaller run of 515 copies (fifteen on hand made paper).

Not listed in Bagnall, the 210-page Murihiku recently bought by the Library is described in the National Library of New Zealand catalogue as a 'printer's advance copy', presumably for the 1907 edition. The National Library of New Zealand and Dunedin City Library copies are the only copies presently known. The Dunedin copy is inscribed by the author to Thomas Mackenzie, an explorer and politician who served briefly as the 18th Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1912.

Purchased from Art+Object auction, Auckland, 6 December 2012 (item 35).

A. S. Bagnall. New Zealand National Bibliography to the Year 1960, 4 vols. in 5 (Wellington: A. R. Shearer, Government Printer, 1970–1980; supplement and index 1985).

Robert Maunsell. Grammar of the New Zealand Language. Auckland: J. Moore, 1842-1843; four parts.
Maunsell's Grammar was described in my 25 July post for Maori Language Week. Its entry reads:

This grammar was written by Robert Maunsell in 1841–1842, encouraged by the support of prominent figures including the Governor’s private secretary (James Coates), Sir William Martin, the first Chief Justice of New Zealand, and George Augustus Selwyn, first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. This support resulted in the work being printed in Auckland by the printer contracted to the government, rather than by the Church Mission Press at Paihia.

Freed from the influence of the Northern District, which controlled mission printing and translating, Maunsell took tentative steps at reforming Maori orthography and adopting (in preference to the northern Ngapuhi dialect) the conventions of the Waikato dialect, which was widely understood and had retained its purity.

3,000 copies were printed at Maunsell’s expense and issued in four parts. At the time of my July post the Library held only two of the four parts, and we are delighted to now have a full set in the collection.

Purchased from Art+Object auction, Auckland, 6 December 2012 (item 271).

South Polar Times. Facsimile edition produced by the Folio Society, 2012; thirteen volumes.
The South Polar Times is a remarkable publication that was produced aboard the Discovery when it wintered over in the Antarctic 1902–1903, and on the Terra Nova in 1910–1913. It was produced as a monthly journal, partly to relieve the boredom and monotony, and presumably also to aid in keeping the men disciplined. Contributions, which were made anonymously or under noms de plume, included poetry, puzzles, scientific articles, observations, mock interviews, reports on events, satires and song parodies. Some contributors, most notably Edward Wilson, provided their own illustrations.

A bound, three-volume reproduction was published in 1907–1914 after the expeditions returned to England, and was intended for the expedition members and their families as a record of and an insight into life in the Antarctic. The recent Folio Society facsimile was produced in the monthly journal format from the original issues held by the Royal Geographical Society, British Library and Scott Polar Research Institute, and include material not found in the 1907–1914 reproduction.

Purchased from the Folio Society, June 2012.


Wishing you all the very best for the Christmas season and a joyous New Year.

01 December 2012

The Oldest English Binding in New Zealand

The oldest English binding in New Zealand has been identified by Donald Kerr, Special Collections Librarian, University of Otago, and reported in the Otago Daily Times. The binding by Rood and Hunt, Oxford, dates to 1482, and covers a volume of Nicholas de Lyra's commentary on the Bible printed in Venice by Johannes Herbort de Seligenstadt the previous year. At some point in its history, much of the binding's spine and spine edge were damaged and replaced.

The book is also notable for another reason: the fragments of indulgences printed by William Caxton (Westminster, after 9 August 1480) and John Lettou (London, after 1480), which were used as sewing guards. These were identified by Christopher de Hamel, who first reported his findings to the Oxford Bibliographical Society in 1982 and included them as part of his 2009 Lyell Lectures.

Courtesy of Special Collections,
University of Otago

The book (and many others) will be on display in the exhibition 'From Pigskin to Paper: The Art and Craft of  Bookbinding', Special Collections, de Beer Gallery, University of Otago, scheduled to open on 20 December.

11 November 2012

'Affair of Honour': A Second Duelling Letter Identified

[Apologies for the long silence. I was away attending a conference towards the end of October and the last fortnight has been pretty hectic!]

On 26 January 2012, I published a post about the gentleman George Payne's touching final letter to his wife, written on the eve of his ill-fated duel with one Mr. Clarke on 6 September 1810. For a time, this was thought to be the only letter concerning a duel held in the Reed collection, Dunedin City Library. A second letter, however, has recently been identified.

The letter reads:

My dear Sir William

I have been so unwell in consequence of the wound I received I could not write to you previously.

I write this to state to you I am much better. I came here to obtain the benefit of good advice. Carmichael is attending me and says I am doing well.

James Browne of Brown Hall and I met near Chester. We exchanged two shots each. On the second his ball passed through my thigh.

Yours most sincerely

R. Dillon Browne
January 29 1838


The scene of Browne propped up in bed, his wounded leg raised and supported, with a small writing table resting on his lap, can be readily imagined. It is fair to say Browne's shaky handwriting can be blamed on his condition, the medication administered to dull the pain, or a combination of the two.

The duel between the two Brownes did not go unnoticed. The following appeared in the 27 January 1838 issue of the Times:

'AFFAIR OF HONOUR.-(From a Correspondent.)-A meeting took place near Chester on Wednesday last, in consequence of a political misunderstanding, between Mr. [Robert] Dillon Browne, M. P. for Mayo, and Mr. James Arthur Browne, of Browne-Hall, in the same county; the former attended by Mr. Somers, M. P. for Sligo; the latter by Mr. Fitzmaurice, of Lagaturn, county of Mayo. At the second exchange of shots, Mr. James A. Browne's ball passing though his antagonist's thigh, the matter was amicably arranged. We are happy to say that the wound is not dangerous, although it may confine Mr. Browne for some time'.

Confine Browne it did. So much so, that he did not know there had been a warrant issued against him by a gentleman named Sievers. According to the Times for 6 February 1838, Sievers applied to the magistrates of Marlborough Street police office for a warrant against Browne charging him with assault. The officer, however, was unable to meet the accused and execute the warrant. 'Since that time', the article continues, 'a statement has been made that Mr. Browne was wounded in a duel in Chester ... and [Browne] states that he will not be able ... to attend before the magistrates to meet the charge [of assault] for some time'. The magistrates later sided with Sievers and fined Browne £5.

It is probably clear by this point that Browne was of a hot-tempered disposition. His meeting with J. A. Browne was not his only duel either. The Landed Estates Database (part of the National University of Ireland, Galway website) notes that Browne was a well known duellist. He carried a pistol at all times, though his choice of firearm was not to everyone's liking. In the Personal Recollections of the Late Daniel O'Connell, M. P. (London, 1848), William John O'Connell, who requested of Daniel a 'friend and case of pistols' for a duel, wrote, 'If Dillon Browne was in Dublin ... [he] would come down here if you called him. I do not like his pistols, they are saw-handled  I like the round-handled best' (298).

A search on Google and in The Times Digital Archive turned up three other duelling challenges involving Browne, though all were settled without violence. One year after his meeting with J. A. Browne, his name appeared in the Times for 24 January 1839 in connection with a challenge issued by a Col. Gallois in Paris. Browne had apparently 'made use of certain dastardly calumnies relative to [Gallois]', which were published. Gallois demanded satisfaction. Browne accepted, and Gallois sailed for Ireland and their appointed meeting. Browne's associates, however, convinced him to retract the statements, and the matter was dropped.

Towards the end of 1840, the 12 December issue of The Spectator reported two incidents involving Browne. In the first, he reportedly sent a 'hostile message' to the Honourable Mr. Cavendish over a matter of monies owed by Browne, who had a weakness for alcohol and was often in debt as a result. The disagreement had been addressed days earlier in the 5 December issue of the Times, in which Cavendish, when confronted by one of Browne's friends regarding the arrangement of a duel, sensibly replied, 'it is not my inclination to hazard my life by meeting that gentleman, and it would militate too much against my own interest to shoot him, in as much as I hold his bond for the sum exceeding 250l. including interest'.

The second event which appeared in The Spectator, just below the note on Browne and Cavendish, was first recorded in the Mayo Constitution. The paper briefly mentioned a report that 'Mr. R. Dillon Browne and Colonel Fitzgerald had gone out to fight a duel'. The cause was an offensive letter written by Browne that appeared in the Mayo Mercury. On 15 December 1840 it was reported that Browne was killed by Fitzgerald, but this was proven to be only a rumour. In truth, Browne withdrew the offending part of the letter and expressed regret at having written it. Fitzgerald also expressed his regret for 'having given an opinion which may have been cause of annoyance to Mr Browne'.

Browne lived for another ten years, dying in bankruptcy in 1850. He was remembered in An Irish Gentleman: George Henry Moore; His Travels, His Racing, His Politics (London, 1913) as 'one of the ablest and most polished speakers in the House of Commons, but ... also one of the most dishonest of politicians, always ready at the nod of a minister to defend any cause, however contrary to the pledges he had given or the interests of his country' (150-151). No doubt Browne would have asked Moore to find himself a second and name the time and place in response to such a remark.

15 October 2012

Canterbury Tales (Of A New Zealand Variety)

The University of Canterbury and Canterbury Museum have joined forces to create a collaborative exhibition called 'Canterbury Tales', which explores the early history of the Canterbury Region and its settlers though books and documents. The physical exhibition closes early next month, but an informative on-line version is available and certainly worth the visit.

Lead curators were Chris Jones, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Canterbury, and Sarah Murray, Curator of Canterbury Social History, Canterbury Museum.

This seems the perfect opportunity to also promote 'Canterbury's King James Bible', the digital version of an exhibition curated by Chris Jones and Bronwyn Matthews, Special Collections Librarian, as part of the 2011 King James Bible quadricentennial. The site contains a wealth of information on the history of the Bible in English and the research into the Canterbury copy of the 1611 KJB, which is one of just two copies of the 'Great He' printing in Australasia. The other is held by the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library.

01 October 2012

Major Ornament Study Digitized And Freely Available

[The following was posted to Exlibris-l by Shef Rogers, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Otago]

Samuel Richardson by Mason Chamberlin
The Department of English at the University of Otago and Dr. Keith Maslen are delighted to announce that Keith's book, Samuel Richardson of London Printer: A Study of his Printing based on Ornament Use and Business Accounts (Dunedin, 2001; ISBN: 0-473-07760-4), has been deposited in the OURArchive as a freely available PDF.

The book is released along with a free PDF of Dr. Maslen's recent supplementary study identifying further works printed using Richardson ornaments, "Samuel Richardson of London, Printer: Further Extending the Canon," published last month in Script & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Both items are published under a Creative Commons Attribution–Non-Commercial–No Derivatives license. Any queries, additions or other thoughts will be gladly received by Dr. Maslen (contact details).

A few (c. 5) printed copies of the book remain available for purchase via the English Department at Otago. An order form and details are to be found on the web.


My congratulations to Keith and the University of Otago for making these resources freely and widely available.

17 September 2012

'An Unknown Vision of Middle-Earth'

Paul Tankard, Senior Lecturer in English, University of Otago, has published a piece in the Times Literary Supplement on previously unknown illustrations by Mary Fairburn for J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

Read the full article.

Announcement on the University of Otago website.

Interview with Paul Tankard on Radio New Zealand.

Congratulations, Paul!

14 September 2012

Exhibition: Dunedin and Antarctic Exploration

Next Stop Antarctica: Dunedin's Role in Polar Exploration
Reed Gallery, Third Floor, Dunedin City Library
6 September to 2 December 2012

2012 is the centennial year marking the death of Robert Falcon Scott (18681912) and his party during the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition. The mission was the second of Scott’s Antarctic ventures to depart from Port Chalmers, New Zealand, following his Discovery Expedition in 19011904. These expeditions were neither the first nor the last such undertakings to launch from Port Chalmers. Indeed, the aptly named ship Antarctic, which carried the first men to claim setting foot on the Antarctic mainland, departed from the port town on Dunedin's south east coast in 1894. To this very day, Dunedin, of which Port Chalmers is now a part, has maintained a connection to the exploration of the Antarctic. ‘Next Stop Antarctica’ explores and celebrates the first half of this nearly 118-year history with Scott at its centre.

The Antarctic has long been a region of interest for intrepid explorers, and so the exhibition begins with a brief look at the voyages made by such men as James Cook, Jules Dumont d’Urville and Sir James Clark Ross, and ends with the United States missions to Antarctica codenamed ‘Operation Deep Freeze’ in the mid-1950s.

On display are more than sixty items from five local institutions. Exhibits include first editions of printed books, including a presentation copy of The South Polar Times given by Sir Ernest Shackleton to the Arctic explorer Sir Allen Young, handwritten and typed letters, issues of Little America Times and the Antarctic News Bulletin, photographs, artefacts (most notably Scott’s typewriter), and memorabilia relating to the American explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd.

An on-line version of the exhibition is available.

Terra Nova in Port Chalmers, 29 November 1910
Photo: Otago Witness

08 September 2012

'Omnibus Christi fidelibus': A Sixteenth-Century Deed Uncovered

In my previous post, I mentioned coming across a sixteenth-century document amongst the Reed provenance files. These files generally consist of pages from book dealer catalogues (occasionally with Reed's pencilled marks), old exhibition labels, notes made by Reed or a local academic on a particular item in the collection, and correspondence. It was with some surprise, then, when I opened the folder on the library's copy of a 1551 Bible, that I found a folded piece of parchment with two wax seal remnants tucked into an envelope among the papers inside.

The document turned out to be a deed written primarily in Latin and dated 2 September 1544. Some research on the manuscript had evidently been done, as a typed transcription of the text was found with it. Full of standard legal phrasing, the deed relates to property granted by Henry VIII ('under the great seal of England') to Roger and Robert Taverner in late August. According to the text, the brothers conveyed to one John Merifelde (also spelt 'Meryfeld'), 'porter de le Mercers, London', a tenement situated in Fenchurch Street in the parish of All Saints Staining. 'Mercers' presumably refers to the Worshipful Company of Mercers, formed in 1394 and the oldest of the 'Great Twelve City Livery Companies'. The text continues that the location in Fenchurch Street was once the Monastery of Grace, near the Tower of London, which was disbanded during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In response to my email about the deed, David Pearson described it as 'part of that huge jigsaw of parcelling up of the spoils of ex-monastic properties, with which many up and coming City men made their fortunes and established their families'.

The deed entitled Merifelde to the tenement and 'all and severally the cellars, basements, shops, rooms, stables, outhouses, entries, passages, gardens, easements and other amenities ... pertaining to the same'. The text ends: 'In witness whereof we have attached to this present deed our seals on the second day of September in the 36th year of the reign of Henry VIII by the Grace of God of England, France and Ireland, King Defender of the Faith, and in the land of France, England and Ireland Supreme Head' [punctuation is mine]. Roger Taverner's seal, of which just a fragment remains, bears a cipher or monogram. Robert's seal is nearly intact and is that of a man's head.

Who were the Taverners?

Roger Taverner (d. 1572) was an MP, surveyor for the Court of Augmentations, and a writer of tracts on economics. His brother Robert (ca. 1523‒1556) was elected a junior MP for a Cornish borough during the last Parliament of Henry VIII. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, they were two of four sons of John Taverner (ca. 1457‒1545) of North Elmham, Norfolk, and his first wife, Alice. One of his kinsmen was the composer and organist John Taverner (ca. 1490‒1545).

Transactions involving land appears to have been a common practice of the Taverner brothers. According to the History of Parliament website: 

'The first glimpse of [Robert] Taverner is in June 1544 when he acquired property in several counties from augmentations for just over £600. In the following ten months in conjunction with two of his brothers he bought land worth over £4,200, much of which they soon alienated, and he continued to make joint purchases with these two brothers in the closing years of Henry VIII’s life and throughout the reigns of Edward VI and Mary until his death'.

[From The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1509‒1558, edited by S. T. Bindoff and published in 1982]


The two men were the younger brothers of Richard Taverner (ca. 1505‒1575), clerk of the signet and evangelical reformer. Taverner is perhaps best known for his revision of the Matthew Bible (Antwerp, 1537). Taverner's Bible was first published in London in 1539, though replaced that same year by the 'Great Bible', which was considered a superior revision of the earlier Matthew Bible. The 1551 edition held by Dunedin City Library* was the eighth and final edition of Taverner's Bible, known for the infamous note at I Peter 3:7 on marital relationships: 'And if she be not obediente and healpeful unto hym: endevour to beate the fere of God inter her heade, that thereby she maye be compelled to learne her dutye and do it'. The note was not part of Taverner's translation, but is attributed to Bishop Edmund Becke who revised the 1551 edition.

Some of the deed's provenance is known. Written on the verso is 'Phillipps Ms 28218', which places the document in the vast nineteenth-century collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792‒1872). The next piece of evidence is a letter on file dated 24 July 1937, written by J. C. Pearson of Cleveland, Ohio, whom I've identified as John Calder Pearson, a member of the Rowfant Club of bibliophiles and author of The Rowfant Candlesticks (1959). The letter was addressed to the Honourable William Burgoyne Taverner, who served as mayor of Dunedin (1927‒1929) and as a member of New Zealand Parliament (1929‒1931). 'You will no doubt know', wrote Pearson, 'whether you are descended from this Taverner family ... If you would like the document as a relic of the name and family in England nearly 400 years ago, I offer it for sale for three guineas or $15'.

It is possible that Pearson acquired the deed in one of two Phillipps sales. According to A. N. L. Munby's The Dispersal of the Phillipps Library (Cambridge, 1960; fifth volume in the Phillipps Studies series), Sotheby's held two auctions of manuscripts from the Phillipps collection on 24‒25 June 1935 and 29‒30 June 1936 (Munby 86). Either is close enough in date to Pearson's July 1937 letter to be a potential point of sale.**

The Taverner-Merifelde deed, however, did not warrant sale as an individual lot, and it seems clear that the manuscript was likely sold as part of a large bundle. As Munby wrote: 'The sales of 1936 and 1938 need not detain us long. Both contained many lots of English deeds, which sold for very modest prices; one may instance xxi [the 29‒30 June 1936 sale], [lot] 512, one hundred and forty-four court-rolls on vellum ... extending from 20 Edward III to 25 Elizabeth, fetched £21 or about three shillings a roll' (91).

However Pearson acquired the deed, his suggested ancestry of W. B. Taverner was correct. He was indeed a descendant of the sixteenth-century Taverners, which made purchasing a document related to his ancestors an irresistible prospect. A second letter by Pearson confirms that the deed was bought by Taverner in December 1938. It was presented to the Dunedin Public Library by Taverner's family after his death in 1953.

The deed, and the associated correspondence, have now been removed from the 1551 Taverner Bible provenance file for cataloguing. In light of this find, a systematic check of each folder in the provenance files sequence is in order. I will add a follow-up post should anything else turn up during my search. Stay tuned.


* The Byble that is to say, al the holy Scripture conteined in the olde & new Testament ... London: Ihon Day dwelling over Aldersgate, 1551; ESTC S107008; Herbert 93. Provenance: From the library of Charles Vere Dashwood, Esq. (b. 1745), of Stanford, Nottinghamshire. The Bible was purchased by the Dunedin Public Library from Thomas Thorp, London, sometime between October 1950 and July 1951.

** Sir Thomas Phillipps's collection numbered more than 100,000 printed books and manuscripts, which took over a century to disperse after his death. For more information, see A. N. L. Munby's Portrait of an Obsession or the relevant pages in Nicholas Basbanes's A Gentle Madness.

25 August 2012

Katherine Mansfield in the News

I initially planned to write this week about a sixteenth-century document I happened upon in the A. H. Reed provenance files. This weekend, however, is shaping up to be a rather hectic one, so I will instead keep it short by noting some recent news regarding one of New Zealand's most celebrated literary figures, Katherine Mansfield (18881923), to go along with the discovery of a lost Mansfield story reported on The Fine Books Blog and elsewhere late last month.

~ Katherine Mansfield Treasure Trove Comes to the Turnbull
The Alexander Turnbull Library has recently acquired a substantial Mansfield archive previously owned by the family of her second husband John Middleton Murry (18891957). Dr Fiona Oliver, Curator of New Zealand and Pacific Publications, believes the collection to be 'the last known collection of Mansfield material in private hands'.

For more information, follow this link.

~ Katherine Mansfield Texts Added to the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre
The Journal of Katherine Mansfield and the second volume of The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, both edited by Murry, are now available on-line through the NZETC.

Mansfield, 1913

25 July 2012

Early Printing for Te Wiki o te Reo Maori

Today (Wednesday) marks the mid point of Maori Language Week (Te Wiki o te Reo Maori). The theme this year is arohatia te reo (to cherish the language). As such, this week's post highlights six of the taonga (treasure, anything prized) among the early books printed partly or fully in the Maori language found in the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library.

Besides offical government publications, the majority of early printed material in New Zealand was produced by missionary societies, and therefore consisted of language aids and religious texts. I have selected three of each, which are described below. But first, typophiles (and bibliophiles generally) might be interested in the unique way that William Colenso (1811–1899), the missionary printer who printed the first substantial book in New Zealand, arranged his type cases:*

Reproduced from D. F. McKenzie's Oral Culture, Literacy & Print
in Early New Zealand
(Wellington, 1985)

'For as the Maori language', wrote Colenso, 'contained only 13 letters (half the number in the English alphabet), I contrived my cases so, as to have both Roman and Italic characters in the one pair of cases.... Such an arrangement proved to be a very good one while my compositing was confined to the Maori language only; but when I had any English copy to compose it was altogether the reverse!... Fortunately, this occurred but rarely' (quoted in McKenzie, p. 25).

Grammars & Dictionary

Samuel Lee and Thomas Kendall. A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand. London: Church Missionary Society, 1820.

As a missionary to New Zealand, Thomas Kendall (1778–1832) was in an ideal position to gather information on the Maori language. With the Rev. Samuel Lee (1783–1852), professor of Arabic and later of Hebrew at Cambridge, he compiled the first book that attempted to lay down the fixed principles of the language in 1815. Five years later this was expanded to include a 100-page vocabulary.

The 1820 edition of the grammar was issued in two versions, one printed on fine paper and the other on coarse paper. The fine paper version was mainly for circulation in England to spark interest in the work of the Church Missionary Society. The coarse paper version was printed for the Society’s schools in New Zealand and 500 copies were published.

Robert Maunsell. Grammar of the New Zealand Language. Auckland: Printed and Published by J. Moore, 1842.

This grammar was written by Robert Maunsell (1810–1894) in 1841–1842, encouraged by the support of prominent figures including the Governor’s private secretary (James Coates), Sir William Martin (ca. 1807–1880), the first Chief Justice of New Zealand, and George Augustus Selwyn (1809–1878), first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. This support resulted in the work being printed in Auckland by the printer contracted to the government, rather than by the Church Mission Press at Paihia. Freed from the influence of the Northern District, which controlled mission printing and translating, Maunsell took tentative steps at reforming Maori orthography and adopting (in preference to the northern Ngapuhi dialect) the conventions of the Waikato dialect, which was widely understood and had retained its purity. 

3,000 copies were printed at Maunsell’s expense and issued in four parts.

William Williams. A Dictionary of the New Zealand Language and a Concise Grammar. Paihia: Church Missionary Society, 1844.

Although some early dictionaries were just simple word lists, Colenso and the missionary-linguist William Williams (1800–1878) wrote full definitions in English for head words, provided clear indications of noun and verbal usages and gave sample sentences for most.

In his Books in Maori, Phil Parkinson notes that work began on the first Maori dictionary in 1837, when Colenso printed a 12-page section that was never published (Parkinson 217). 'When the Committee of Missionaries renewed its decision to print the grammar', Parkinson continues, 'Colenso wrote to the CMS on 26 July 1842 of his concerns about its lack of usefulness to Maori and the "hindrance" of having to do such "un-missionary work"'. Colenso suggested it would be better printed in England, but his fellow missionary printer (and successor), John Telford, disagreed, and was set the task of printing the dictionary.

The dictionary was compiled by William Williams and printed in an edition quantity of 550 copies. Williams's dictionary proved so popular that subsequent editions appeared in 1852, 1871, 1892, and several in the twentieth century (Parkinson 217).

The copy in the Dunedin City Library is inscribed by Bishop Selwyn.

The Bible in Maori

Ko te tahi wahi o Te Kawenata Hou o Ihu Karaiti te Ariki, to tatou Kai wakaora: me nga upoko e waru o te pukapuka o Kenehi: ka oti nei te wakamaori ki te reo o Nu Tirani. Hirini [Sydney]: Kua oti te ta e Te Tipene raua ko Te Toki, 1833.

The third published translation of any biblical scripture into Maori and among the ten earliest printed works in the Maori language. In 1814 the Church Missionary Society founded its New Zealand Mission. James Shepherd, one of its missionaries, began to translate portions of the Bible into Maori, approximately ten years later. While visiting Sydney in 1827, another missionary, Richard Davis, arranged for the New South Wales Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society to print 400 copies of a thirty-one-page volume of extracts. A second volume appeared in 1830, and expanded to 170 pages in 1833. The second and third volumes were also printed in Sydney, under the direction of the missionary William Yate (1802–1877) who, in 1830, produced Ke te katekihama III, a six-page edition of the third catechism in Maori and the first work printed on New Zealand soil.

Beginning of the Gospel of John
Ko te Kawenata Hou o to tatou Ariki te Kai Wakaroa a Ihu Karaiti. Paihia: He mea ta i Perehi o nga Mihanere o te Hahi o Ingarani, 1837.

On 17 February 1835, William Colenso produced his first piece of printing in New Zealand: a 16-page translation of the Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and to the Ephesians. Two years later, he finished the much more ambitious project of printing the first complete New Testament in Maori, which was translated primarily by William Williams.

The first copies of an edition of 5,000 were issued after binding the following year (Parkinson 44). According to the New Zealand Dictionary of Biography, 'Maori demand was high: a Maori leader in Kaitaia sent a messenger for a copy, bearing the only gold sovereign Colenso had seen in the country'.

Beginning of the Book of Genesis
Ko te Paipera Tapu, ara, Ko te Kawenata Tawhito me te Kawenata Hou: He mea whakamaori mai no nga reo i oroko-tuhituhia ai. Ranana [London]: He mea ta ki te Perehi a W. M. Watts, ma te Komiti ta Paipera mo Ingarangi mo te Ao Katoa, 1868.

Ko te Paipera Tapu is the first complete Maori Bible. The initial request for a complete Bible in the Maori language was made by the Church Missionary Society in 1862. The work is based on Maunsell’s translation of the Old Testament and William Williams’s version of the New Testament. It was revised by George Maunsell, Elizabeth Colenso (1821–1904), and Bishop Selwyn, who saw the Bible through the press for the British and Foreign Bible Society (Parkinson 716).

Copies arrived in New Zealand from England in 1869. The Bible was made available in three different bindings: red sheep, speckled calf, and red morocco.

For further reading:

P. G. Parkinson. Books in Maori, 1815-1900: An Annotated Bibliography = Nga Pukapuka Reo Maori, 1815-1900. Auckland: Reed Publishing, 2004.

H. W. Williams. A Bibliography of Printed Maori. Wellington: A. R. Shearer, Government Printer, 1975; first published in 1924 and supplemented in 1928.

D. F. McKenzie. Oral Culture, Literacy & Print in Early New Zealand: The Treaty of Waitangi. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1985.

J. McRae. 'From Maori Oral Traditions to Print' in Book & Print in New Zealand: A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa edited by Penny Griffith, Ross Harvey and Keith Maslen. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997.

J. McRae, 'Maori Oral Tradition Meets the Book'; D. Keenan, 'Aversion to Print? Maori Resistance to the Written Word'; and P. Lineham, 'Tampering with the Sacred Text: The Second Edition of the Maori Bible' in A Book in the Hand: Essays on the History of the Book in New Zealand edited by Penny Griffith, Peter Hughes and Alan Loney. Wellington: Auckland University Press, 2000.

Peter Wells. The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso. Auckland: Vintage, 2011.

* Colenso's cases are also reproduced on the Alembic Press website, which includes case layouts for Scottish, Vietnamese, Irish, and a host of other languages.

21 July 2012

Petition to Save the Mendham Collection

The following was posted on Exlibris-l on 19 July. I encourage everyone to please not only sign the petition, but to also circulate it far and wide in an effort to save this historic library.


Dear colleagues,

I am writing to ask for your support for a campaign by the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral to save the Mendham Collection, a historic library of manuscripts and printed material.

Its founder, Joseph Mendham (1769-1856), was an Anglican vicar and, in the words of the Dictionary of National Biography, a ‘religious controversialist’.

The collection was given to the Law Society in the 1860s, and then loaned by them to the University of Kent and Canterbury Cathedral in 1984. You can browse through the collection's holdings on the University's library catalogue by looking up the keyword 'Mendham'.

Although we have an agreement with the Law Society until the end of 2013, they have suddenly decided to sell the most valuable items at auction to plug a hole in their finances. On Wednesday, Sotheby's took away about 300 of the most valuable books.

Colleagues in and beyond Kent are extremely distressed by this and are hoping to draw attention to the plight of the collection. We are entreating the Law Society to pause so that we can try to find a way to preserve the collection intact for current and future researchers. We have sympathy for the Law Society's predicament but are nonetheless horrified that this historic collection is to be sacrificed.

Yesterday, we launched a petition: please add your signature if you would like to help us to secure the future of the Mendham Collection.

Sincerely yours,


Dr Alixe Bovey
Chair, Mendham Collection Task Force
Director of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies & Lecturer in Medieval History
School of History
University of Kent


Images of the books being removed and packed up can be found here.

30 June 2012

Rare Book Week in Melbourne

Kay Craddock's Bookshop
156 Collins St.
Next month sees the launch of the inaugural Melbourne Rare Book Week in conjunction with the biennial University of Melbourne Cultural Treasures Festival and the 39th ANZAAB Antiquarian Book Fair.

Being held from 19 to 29 July, Rare Book Week includes 'a series of informative and entertaining lectures, events and exhibitions celebrating the book and the joy of collecting.... If you are curious about books and what makes them collectable, and fascinated by ephemeral items that capture the spirit of a time, or you are drawn to prints that illustrate our history and maps that reflect the peaks and perils of travel and adventure, then Melbourne is the place to be in July'.

A full list of events, all but one of which are free to attend, is available on the Rare Book Week programme page.

23 June 2012

Rare Book School 2013, Dunedin

The eighth Australian and New Zealand Rare Book School is being hosted next year by the Centre for the Book, University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Running from 28 January to 1 February 2013, the three courses on offer are:

The Business of Books in Britain (James Raven)
This course offers broad consideration of developments in historical bibliography and what has become known as ‘the history of the book’ by focusing on the productive transformation of printing, publishing and bookselling in Britain during the last two hundred years or so of the dominance of the manual printing press (full description).

James Raven is Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex. Author of numerous articles and books, he wrote The Business of Books: Booksellers and the English Book Trade 1450–1850 in 2007, which went on to win the 2008 De Long prize. He and Leslie Howsam have just published an edited collection of essays on trans-Atlantic book history, Books between Europe and the Americas: Connections and Communities, 1620–1860 (2011).

English Paleography, 1500
1700 (Heather Wolfe)
This course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on English secretary hand. Working from digital images, color photocopies, and manuscripts, participants will be trained in the accurate reading and transcription of secretary, italic, and mixed hands (full description).

Heather Wolfe is Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC. Author of numerous articles on early modern manuscripts, she has most recently edited The Literary Career and Legacy of Elizabeth Cary (2007) and The Trevelyon Miscellany of 1608: A Facsimile Edition of Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.232 (2007). She has taught paleography several times at Rare Book School in Charlottesville, VA.

Exhibitions: The Art and Practicalities (Donald Kerr and Richard Overell)
This course examines the philosophy behind exhibitions, particularly sourcing ideas and proposals on what to exhibit and when, along with curatorial issues such as selecting items to display, assessing lighting and cabinet sizes, and designing captions and labels, through to making cradles for books, press release writing, and ensuring the narrative is not only told, but suits the audience (full description).

Donald Kerr is Special Collections Librarian at the University of Otago, author of numerous articles, and biographer of Sir George Grey. He is co-director of the University of Otago Centre for the Book and President of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Richard Overell is Rare Books Librarian at Monash University, where he has been the curator of about 100 exhibitions ranging from 'The Restoration' to 'Ephemera'.

Application forms will be available shortly. For a course brochure (PDF), tuition costs, contact details and other information, please visit the Centre for the Book Rare Book School website.

UPDATE: Application forms are now available.

25 May 2012

Exhibition Announcement: 'Our Will & Pleasure: Royal Autographs, Letters and Memorabilia of the British Monarchy'

The exhibition 'Our Will & Pleasure: Royal Autographs, Letters and Memorabilia of the British Monarchy' opened last night in the Reed Gallery, Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library. This is the first exhibition where items from the Reed Autograph Letters & Manuscripts Collection have taken centre stage, and it is timed to coincide with the wider events celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

On display are more than twenty manuscripts with a royal connection ranging in date from a 1704 document signed by Queen Anne, to the signatures of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, from their visit to the Dunedin Public Library in 1954. Some of the items are accompanied by cartes de visite and printed ephemera. Three cases are dedicated to royal tours of New Zealand, from the 1901 visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York, to the 1980 visit by the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

Supporting material includes letters and documents by six Prime Ministers from Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, to W. E. Gladstone (writing to Sir Anthony Panizzi). Three early histories of Britain and its monarchs round out the exhibition.

The physical exhibition closes on 19 August. If visiting Dunedin before then, please do call in.

14 May 2012

Exhibition Announcement: Joking Aside: Caricatures, Cartoons and Comic Illustrations

Joking Aside: Caricatures, Cartoons and Comic Illustrations
Auckland Central City Library
28 March to 15 July 2012

Though over a month in, there is still plenty of time for locals (and some non locals) to check out the latest exhibition at Auckland City Library.

[From the Auckland City Libraries website]

This scintillating new exhibition features illustrations from the eighteenth to twentieth century, produced by international and NZ artists.

The focus is on the development of visual satire for political or social purposes, with work from William Hogarth, George Cruikshank, the artists of Punch magazine and well known NZ cartoonists like David Low and Gordon Minhinnick.

For readers who cannot make it to Auckland, some highlights from 'Joking Aside' are available on the library website.

08 May 2012

Publication Announcement: Treasures of the University of Canterbury Library

Treasures of the University of Canterbury Library
Edited by Chris Jones and Bronwyn Matthews
with Jennifer Clement

$40.00 NZD

[from the U of C Press website]

The University of Canterbury is the guardian of a rich and varied inheritance, which is reflected in the diverse material held by its libraries. 

These collections enable us to discover not only the history of Christchurch, the South Island of New Zealand’s largest city, but also the history of an emerging nation and the broader Pacific region.

This book presents reflections on some of the distinctive and exceptional items in the University’s keeping. Written by Canterbury academics and members of the wider community, it considers material ranging from medieval European manuscripts to Maori whakapapa books. 

The items surveyed vary from an original printing of the 1611 King James Bible, to the papers of Karl Popper and the Pacific Leprosy Foundation Archive. 

Together these tell many stories. They offer insights into the minds of kings, intellectuals, musicians, artists and explorers. They chart the development of a university and the building of a community. They are a history of the written word, but also of a settler society. 

Canterbury’s treasures offer fascinating windows onto the past and occasion to reflect on the present; they highlight many of the opportunities for future research opening up in an increasingly digital age.

About the editors:

Chris Jones is a senior lecturer in History at the University of Canterbury. His research focuses on the development of medieval political ideas and concepts of identity.

His publications include Eclipse of Empire: Perceptions of the Western Empire and its rulers in Late-Medieval France (2007) and the edited collection John of Paris: Beyond royal and papal power (2012).

Bronwyn Matthews is the Liaison Librarian (Special Collections) at the University of Canterbury. She is particularly interested in security aspects of library collections and in the use of rare books for teaching.


A review of Treasures can be found here and ordering information here.

02 May 2012

Ephemera #4: Keepsakes Printed on Silk

Courtesy of the Otago Settlers Museum
Silk and the book have a long history together. Chinese scribes were using the material as a writing surface in their manuscript books as early as the fourth or fifth century B.C. Silk has been employed in the crafting of textile bindings from the sixteenth century, and was used to make end leaves and doublures in bindings from the nineteenth century.

Entire books have also been printed on silk as special issues, such as a nineteenth-century French edition of Laurence Sterne's Sentimental Journey (Paris, [1841]), and the 1748 edition of Cicero's Laelius and 1751 edition of Anacreon's Odes printed in Glasgow by R. & A. Foulis (Hillyard, 19).

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, silk was used as a printing surface for a range of ephemera. Publishers had commemorative issues of periodicals printed on silk, such as the 29 May 1865 issue of the Christchurch Evening Mail and the 10 May 1890 issue of the Ovens and Murray Advertiser (McMullin, BSANZB 21:3, 183), and it was used as a printing surface by a variety of businesses and other organisations for special menus, concert and theatre programmes, and to mark birthdays, coronations and anniversaries.

Australasian examples of silk or satin keepsakes have been recorded in the Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia & New Zealand. In addition to the two specially issued newspapers already mentioned, Harold Love's article 'Early Melbourne Theatrical Ephemera' notes four programme posters on silk with borders of tasselled embroidery (much like the example produced in Dunedin shown above) printed for the 'Lyster opera company ... for Vice-Regal performances in Adelaide in 1879' (Love, 5).

In his trilogy on printed keepsakes, Brian McMullin records the printing of silken keepsakes during three colonial celebration processions held between 1850 and 1863 (these processions included horse-drawn carts carrying a printing press and pressmen, who ran off commemorative sheets, on paper, not silk, and distributed them to the crowds lining the streets). The two examples cited are an 1850 tract that was a 'chronological epitome of the most notable dates and events in Port Phillip', with the likenesses of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert printed above, and a seven stanza poem called The Old Chum's Musings; suggested by the commencement of the Geelong & Melbourne Railway, September 20th 1853 (McMullin, BSANZB 11:3, 98)Though not an Australasian example, McMullin has also noted in the BSANZB a keepsake printed on silk in Malta held by the British Library. The item is an eight-page issue of The Daily Malta Chronicle. And Garrison Gazette, 'published 26 June 1897 ... [and] commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria' (McMullin, BSANZB 35:2, 114).

Two examples of printing on silk were recently discovered in the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library.

The first was this programme printed by Mackay, Bracken & Co. in the Saturday Advertiser office, Dunedin, produced for the Dunedin Choral Society's final concert of the 187879 season.

The second (and to me, the more interesting) silken keepsake was found affixed to a page in a date and signature book called ‘Men of ANZAC, 1914–1918'. The book, possibly kept by a New Zealand nurse or foreign correspondent, includes the signatures of numerous First World War soldiers written in the calendar. The last pages contain later signatures, photographs and some ephemera, including one printed on silk:

The soldier was Leslie Waters Dickinson from Opotiki, Bay of Plenty, who embarked aboard the 'Willochra' for active service on 16 October 1916. His personalised Christmas keepsake is the first of its kind that I have seen, and I would be grateful to hear from anyone who knows of other examples.

Here on the South Island, the Otago Settlers Museum holds a fine collection of no less than thirty-four nineteenth- and early twentieth-century keepsakes printed on silk or satin by at least nine Dunedin firms. The Canterbury Museum also holds a collection of silk and satin keepsakes produced in and around Christchurch.

Does your institution hold a collection of items printed (or written) on silk or satin? Aware of other holdings? If so, please leave a comment.


Brian Hillyard. 'Books Printed on Silk or Linen'. Factotum 20 (1989): 1920. Vincent Kinane followed up in Factotum 29 by adding one further book printed on silk by the Foulis brothers, and a vellum copy of Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (Parma, 1791), which included a title-page vignette printed on white satin.

Harold Love. 'Early Melbourne Theatrical Ephemera'. Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia & New Zealand 14:4 (1979): 312.

Brian McMullin. 'An Excursion into Printed Keepsakes II: Colonial Celebrations'. Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia & New Zealand 11:3 (1989): 97107.

----. 'Bibliographical Note No. 6: Printing Newspapers on Silk'. Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of New Zealand 21:3 (1997): 183.

----. 'Bibliographical Note: Printing on Silk in Malta'. Script & Print: Bulletin of the Bibliographical Society of Australia & New Zealand 35:2 (2011): 114.

Information on the history of silk and books was drawn from The Oxford Companion to the Book, 2 vols. (Oxford: OUP, 2010), 2:1158.

22 April 2012

BSANZ Conference Call for Papers

[posted on behalf of the BSANZ]

CALL FOR PAPERS--Deadline in 10 days

The BSANZ (Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand) wishes to remind readers that abstracts for its annual conference, to be held this year in Dunedin, New Zealand, from 14-17 November, are due the first of May. Papers on all aspects of bibliography and book history will be welcomed, but special consideration will be given to those addressing the conference theme, 'Thinking Through Books'.

Possible sub-topics include:

~ Issues of surface reading – what do readers 'see' and attend to on the page and how does that vary with time, genre and occasion?

~ Word and image in electronic databases such as British Printed Images to 1700 

~ How do books influence culture, i.e. how does 'cultural thinking' happen through books?

~ How do readers 'compile' or create a coherent sense of a book when absorbing it only sequentially?

Abstracts should be c. 250 words and should be emailed to the conference organisers, Shef Rogers (shef.rogers@otago.ac.nz) or Donald Kerr (donald.kerr@otago.ac.nz), by 1 May 2012.

University hall accommodation will be available for NZ$70/night including breakfast. Registration will be NZ$200 and include morning and teas and lunches on all three days, as well as afternoon tea on the 15th and an opening reception on the evening of the 14th. The afternoon of the 16th will be free for various sightseeing activities, followed by the conference dinner at the University Staff Club (separate fee). The conference will conclude with lunch on the 17th.

For those especially keen to make the most of their travels, why not consider attending the 'Global Ireland' conference the week before (7-10 November)?

05 April 2012

Conference 'Love and Devotion: Persian Cultural Crossroads'

A royal picnic (detail), from ʿAttar, Intikhab-i Hadiqa, c 1575
Registration is still open for "Love and Devotion: Persian Cultual Crossroads", a three-day conference coinciding with the State Library of Victoria exhibition "Love and Devotion: From Persia and Beyond".

"This cross-disciplinary conference will explore cultural convergences in literature, art and architecture, history and philosophy from the time of Firdausi in the early 11th century to the present day, within the various Persian empires, Ottoman Turkey, Mughal India and Europe .... Distinguished international guests and Australian specialists will explore themes including Persian ideals of love and devotion as expressed through the arts, intersections with the west, and the contemporary legacy".

The conference runs from 12 to 14 April. Among the keynote speakers are:

~ Charles Melville (University of Cambridge): "The 'Arts of the Book' & the Diffusion of Persian Culture"

~ Stefano Carboni (Art Gallery of Western Australia): "Illustrated Talismans in the Bodleian Kitab al-Bulhan"

~ Zahra Taheri (Australian National University): "Women in Rumi's Spiritual Circle"

~ Mammad Aidani (University of Melbourne): "Authenticity & the Act of Devotion & Friendship in the Poetry of Maulana Jalal al-Din Rumi"

~ Barbara Brend (independent scholar, London): "The Khamsa of Nizami & the Khamsa of Amir Khusrau: Some Similarities & Differences Reflected in Their Illustrations"

A full list of speakers and paper abstracts can be found here.

The exhibition website offers a wealth of educational information, an events list and multimedia, including an image gallery and poetry readings. The site is well worth a visit if you are unable to make it to Melbourne.

23 March 2012

Ephemera #3: 'Victa et Etona est'

Ephemera is not limited to just printed material. Transitory written matter, such as this 78 x 38mm. card with Latin verse, also fit the definition.

The card was found in 2008 among the contents of an unprocessed box of manuscript material (now fully catalogued) in the Reed Autograph Letters & Manuscripts Collection, Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library.

The text reads:

Cui paret turba,
Nunc arbitrorum
Accipe verba.

Desine seria
Paullum tractare:
Solita feria
Detur. Sed quare?

Judices urgent
'Feria bona est'
Pueri assurgent
'Victa et Etona est'

G. D. to G. R.
Win: Coll.
Cloister Time 1878


O you who the throng of Wykehamists obey,
Now receive the words of the arbiters.

Cease dealing with serious matters for a while;
Let the customary holiday be granted. But why?

The judges are insistent: 'It is a good holiday'.
The boys will rise up [and shout]: 'Eton is beaten'.


Who were 'G. D.' and 'G. R.'? What event caused the author to compose this short verse?

It is believed that 'G.D.' was the judge and politician George Denman (1819–1896), who 'from his schooldays found verse writing easy and continued to read Greek and Latin classics for pleasure' (ODNB). The recipient was either George Ridding (1828–1904), headmaster of Winchester College from 1867 to 1884, or George Richardson, who was second master from 1873 to 1898 (though the headmaster seems more likely). 

Denman was not an Old Wykehamist, having attended Felsted and then Repton School before entering Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1838. He was, however, present at the assizes courts, which were held in Winchester in early July 1878.

According to Suzanne Foster (Winchester College Archives), who identified Denman and Ridding/Richardson as author and recipient, it was customary for Winchester prefects to write to the judges and ask for an extra day's holiday.

The reason for the desired holiday, noted Foster, was based on a cricket match. Winchester plays Eton each year and in 1878, Winchester beat Eton for the first time since 1871. This match was, and still is, one of the most significant days in the school calendar. Denman's verse, therefore, asks Ridding to grant an additional day's holiday, at a time when the boys were celebrating their success against Eton and looking forward to the end of term.

15 March 2012

Ephemera #2: 'Lest We Forget'

Cover designed by
Warrant Officer A. E. Darling
Anzac Day is the national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand. The day (25 April) originally honoured the members of the combined Australia and New Zealand forces who fought at Gallipoli in the First World War, but has since come to commemorate all who served and those who have given their lives in active service.

Despite being imprisoned in Stalag 383 during the Second World War, the interned Commonwealth soldiers managed to remember the anniversary in 1944 with a dawn service, a march past with military band, and a series of sporting competitions.

The commanding German officer allowed the men to produce this souvenir programme outlining the day's events (busy prisoners are not planning their escape). The programme was printed by a local firm in Regensburg, and its inside cover is stamped 'Stalag 383 4 Geprüft', marking the programme as 'examined' by the Stalag authorities. Eighteen of the soldiers present were also veterans of the First World War.

One New Zealand prisoner, George T. Seccombe, had the presence of mind to post his copy to the Dunedin R.S.A. The envelope, stamped with the Stalag 'Geprüft' stamp and the Red Cross emblem, was kept, and remains with the programme along with a letter by Seccombe describing the day.

The Dunedin Public Library copy of the souvenir programme (part of its Troopship Journals Collection) is one of just two copies recorded as being held by any institution. The other copy is in the University of Canterbury special collections. If any readers are aware of other copies in existence, please send me an email.