Friday, 31 January 2014

Eras of opera ephemera

Ephemera is the term for printed material originally intended to have a limited life-span, such as pamphlets, posters, tickets and flyers. Libraries collect ephemera because it enhances information found in longer-lasting documents, giving us a more complete picture of life at a given point in time. Some of this 'throwaway' material has considerable visual appeal because it often combines text with images.

The performing arts is a major subject area of the ephemera collection in the Sir George Grey Special Collections at Auckland Libraries. Material in this collection dates from the 1850s to the present, with active collection by librarians beginning in the 1970s. The ephemera collection has a wide geographic scope which is nationwide. Usage of the collection for research purposes is broad and varied; with researchers ranging from social historians and popular non-fiction authors, to graphic design students and academics.

Ephemera reflects both changing attitudes in society and technological advances, as can be seen in the following examples of promotional material for the opera La Traviata from 1864 to 2005.

Ref: OCM Ephemera - Lyster's Royal Italian and English Opera Company, La Traviata, 1864, Sir George Grey Special Collections

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

From the Archives of Selwyn Church, Mangere East

Selwyn Church began life as the second Holy Trinity Church in Victoria Avenue (now Mason Avenue) Otahuhu. The church was dedicated by Bishop Selwyn and Bishop Patteson on St John the Evangelist’s Day, 27 December 1863.

Ref: 4-8789, Old Holy Trinity Church, Otahuhu, c. 1900-1919, Sir George Grey Special Collections
The following poem was recently discovered among Selwyn Church’s archives. It was written by an anonymous, bored synodsman (a church member ) at the Christchurch synod in 1969, probably during a lengthy and tedious debate on the ordination of women.  Enjoy!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Lopdell House, Titirangi, West Auckland

Ref: Lopdell House, December 2013
I live in Titirangi, and in recent weeks, I have watched Lopdell House emerge like a pale butterfly from its cocoon of scaffolding and plastic building wrap. It has undergone seismic strengthening and significant refurbishment, and work has now started on an adjoining new gallery.

This locally important, grand building has had an interesting history and over the years has been used for a wide range of purposes. Built to try and capitalise on the established tourist trade in Titirangi and the Waitakere Ranges (primarily Auckland day trippers) ‘Hotel Titirangi’ was built in 1929-1930, and was promoted as “A Castle on the Fringe of Heaven” (‘Lopdell House and a History of Hotel Titirangi, by Peter Buffet (1986)).

Ref: JTD-10A-01675, Advertisement for Hotel Titirangi, 1936, West Auckland Research Centre
The ‘Spanish mission style’ hotel could accommodate over 60 guests in its fully-carpeted rooms with en-suites, and included a small shop, tea-room, restaurant with dance floor and an observation deck. However, the much hoped-for liquor-licence was never granted, resulting in the nickname ‘the Pub with No Beer’.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Winnie the Pooh & teddy bears

AA Milne (1882-1956), the author of the much beloved children's classic 'Winnie the Pooh' was born on Sunday 19th 1882. The Aberdeen Journal published a glowing review (see below) of  'Winne the Pooh' when it first came out in 1926, referring to it as 'a book that all children will adore, and that their elders will pick up by stealth and read zestfully to the very end'.

Ref: Article entitled 'Pooh Bear: A Delightful Milne Fantasy', The Aberdeen Journal, 1926, from The British Newspaper Archive
As well as the wonderfully delightful tales by Milne, it is the evocative illustrations by the talented illustrator EH Shepard (1879-1976), which make Winne the Pooh such an enduring read.

Auckland Libraries holds a number of different versions of Winnie the Pooh in the heritage collections and other related Pooh and friends stories illustrated by Shepard.You can also find out about the Bear Garden in Devonport, North Shore, which never contained bears - including an image of the garden and newspaper articles from the Local History Online database. Despite the vast array of toys now available to children, good old fashioned, low technology teddy bears are still a popular children's toy. Below is a selection of bear related images drawn from Auckland Libraries' heritage collections for you to enjoy, including: tender portraits, children and teddies at play, real life teddy bears and fancy dress bears!