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Showing posts from July, 2018

The Harpsichord Master

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This little advertisement appeared in the London newspaper The Post Boy, 21-23 October 1697. It is actually a transcription of the title page of a collection of keyboard pieces called The Harpsichord Master by Mr Henry Purcell and others, published in that year. It was the first of a series of instructional books published by John Walsh, and his successors, to meet a growing demand from the public as the harpsichord became more and more popular as an instrument. During this time the harpsichord underwent considerable development and became one of the most important European instruments eventually evolving into the pianoforte. Often it is only the advertisements like the one above that give evidence of the existence of these books.


The Harpsichord Master had been referred to in several written works about Purcell but no one really knew exactly what it contained. In fact, no copies were thought to have survived. When this unique volume of The Harpsichord Master was discovered at Auckland…

The 1932 Queen Street unemployment riot

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In 1932 unemployment riots swept through the country as the Great Depression intensified. The worst occurred in Auckland on 14 April, over 200 people were injured and 250 shop windows were smashed along Queen Street. Broken glass covered footpaths and looters grabbed whatever they could: shoes, jewellery, clothing, cigars. There were 45 arrests.



Earlier in the day, Postal and Telegraph Employees Association workers had marched to the town hall to protest a second 10% wage cut. All pensions had also been reduced and the family allowance terminated. Marching columns of jobless men and women joined the protest and the crowd grew to 15,000. Around 2,000 people were allowed into the town hall before police barred further entry. Scuffles broke out between police and those left outside.


Unemployed workers leader Jim Edwards rose to speak, a policeman struck him down with a baton and the crowd erupted. Police batoned protestors who armed themselves with fence palings from the Methodist Centra…

The 1984 Queen Street riot

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In 1984 an end-of-school-year rock concert in Aotea Square turned into a youth riot that caused over $1 million worth of damage. Starring DD Smash and billed as “Thank God It’s Over,” the Friday night concert soured after riot police tried to arrest youths urinating off the Wellesley Street post office verandah. Spectators resisted and police closed down the concert because they couldn’t hear radio signals from their control room while the band performed. DD Smash singer Dave Dobbyn was charged with inciting the riot and was eventually cleared of all charges.

Around 10,000 people and 20 police were present in the Square at the time; then around 3000 young people swarmed down Queen Street merging with late night shoppers and traffic. The riot lasted for two hours and by the end of the evening 400 police were involved. Sixty three shop windows were smashed, cars overturned and set alight. Acting district police commander Graham Perry said “at one stage a police van containing 18 prisone…

A new way to mine for “real gold”

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We invite visitors to Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library to call in to the Sir George Grey Special Collections Reading Room on Level 2 to view our treasure – no mining picks required.

In 2007 the book Real Gold: treasures of Auckland City Libraries was published by AUP and the library with support from the Auckland Library Heritage Trust. The treasure book with insightful text by Iain Sharp and luscious photographs by Haru Sameshima keeps on giving.

Not only can you buy the book ($20) here but you can see the essays online through our website.

To continue developing the gold nuggets in the book we have begun a display programme in the Reading Room where items from the book and the Sir George Grey Special Collections will always be on display. We invite you to visit the Reading Room to sample Real Gold originals. The display will change every month for your delight and to minimise the exposure to light levels for these valuable works.

July starts with letters to Grey from Char…