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.