Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Collected images: Photograph albums and sketch books

The photography material in Sir George Grey Special Collections is made up of 500,000 images from the 1840s to the present day. Items in the collection include glass plate and film negatives, cartes de visitedaguerreotypes, postcards, watercolour paintings, drawings and original prints. The 250 individual photograph albums the library holds are a lovely but sometimes trickier-to-stumble-upon part of the collection.

The photograph albums date from 1859 to the present day. Predictably, the subjects covered in the albums vary widely and include: tourist snaps, war time scenes, images of family, friends, animals, buildings, cities, landscapes, vehicles, forests, beaches, vessels, tangi/funerals, celebrations, parades, expeditions, council activities and royal visits. Some of the photograph albums have an entry on the Heritage Images database and only a selection of the images in the albums have been digitised.

Ref: The inside cover and first page, with a drawing of the vessel Totara, 986-ALBUM-184 , Cecil Stickley, 1896.

 Ref: A drawing of Mt Albert, 986-ALBUM-184 , Cecil Stickley, 1896.
Some of the collection items which have been placed in the photograph collection do not include photographs. Whilst this might seem a bit confusing, it is where image rather than text based materials fit best - this includes visual items such as sketches and paintings.
The images above are taken from a sketch book of drawings and watercolours, mainly of ships, flowers and views in the Auckland area, drawn by Cecil Stickley of Mount Roskill during a two month period in 1896. In February 1893, an article in the New Zealand Herald included the prize list from an Auckland Society of Arts exhibition. Stickley, a student at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, was awarded an honourable mention in the 'Shaded study of hands or feet, from the antique' category.

Ref: Two images from 755-ALBUM-25, Josiah Martin, 1880s.
The Josiah Martin photograph album shown above consists of 24 prints from the 1880s which include images of Albert Park, the interior of the Auckland Museum, the opening day of the Calliope Dock, giant kauri trees and a view of an outdoor roller skating rink.

Ref: Pages from 305-ALBUM-109, 1880s-90s.
Photograph albums can be great physical objects to view. Sometimes they have intricate clasps, inventive binding, textured fabric covers, an illustration on the front, or use interesting typography. The one in the image above has cardboard pages which have been painted to look like wood. This is a family photograph album of unidentified portraits from the 1880s or 1890s.

Feel free to enquire about the photograph album collection at the Sir George Grey Special Collections reading room or by sending an email.

Author: Zoë Colling, Sir George Grey Special Collections

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