Showing posts from May, 2014

Cartoons, Comics and Caricatures: Evidence or Ephemera?

I recently attended the Cartoons, Comics and Caricatures: Evidence or Ephemera? symposium held on the 3rd May 2014 at the University of Auckland. I spent a fascinating day listening to a diverse array of speakers drawn from the cartoon world (Alan Moir), academia (University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington) and libraries/archives (Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL) including the NZ Cartoon Archive). Ref: William Bricknell Gibbs, He's (H) all there at Rat catching, no location, c. 1880s, Auckland Libraries  Heritage Collections , 661-4   Alan Moir's talk gave a good overview of political cartoons both within and outside of newspapers. He noted that cartoons are valuable because they reflect opinions and ideas over the course of history. Good cartoons he says, are those which feature few words but are still incredibly powerful and use metaphor to good effect. It's worth noting that many cartoons don't make sense or work outside of their country of or

Calling all petrol heads

Do you love cars? The sleek lines, revving engine and the smell of an oily rag? Well have we got a blog post for you! Drawn from the collections at the North and West Auckland Research Centres, we have vintage cars galore plus images of car rallies all set in the landscapes of the North Shore and West Auckland. The introduction of cars 100 years ago revolutionised the way people lived, worked and spent their leisure time. Suddenly getting from A to B was much quicker and more efficient, opening up opportunities for people to take outings and trips. Like all  places around the world, the introduction of the car also brought a radical change in the landscape and the way towns were laid out and operated and some not so pleasant side effects, such as pollution. Keen to find out more? Check out this great visual history of the car in NZ  and browse through the heritage resources at Auckland Libraries. Pre-1920s cars: Ref: Frank Morris, international buggy, location unknown, c. 191

Shakespeare's First Folio

There are  a number of Shakespearean treasures in the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library. Many of these are from the founding collections donated by Sir George Grey in 1882. The First Folio was the first edition to collect together 36 of Shakespeare's plays and is a highly prized publication. Without it, Shakespeare's plays would be lost to us. The publication was edited by the actors John Hemminge and Henry Condell and only about 1,000 copies were originally printed. The library's First Folio is one of just three in the Southern Hemisphere and one of only 228 remaining copies in the world. Thanks to Grey's donation, we are also the only library in NZ with a rare First Folio and a contemporary quarto of one of the plays (Pericles, 1619). The library also hold many publications by Shakespeare's contemporaries, such as Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser and John Donne. Dr. Emma Smith of Hertford College, University of Oxford University

Mixed emotions

One of the very human traits that is literally written all over our face, is our emotions. Be it happy or sad, scared or angry, this is usually immediately obvious by our facial expressions. Some people are able to hide their emotions well (they make great card players!) but most of us make our feelings pretty clear. Capturing these moments using a camera is a common practice and helps us to remember what was happening at the time, such as a family portrait. It is worth noting though, that people in the past viewed showing their emotions in photographs in a very different light. Have you ever noticed that people in early photographs never smile? There have been many theories regarding the reason for this - was it their bad teeth? This is unlikely since most people had bad teeth due to poor dental hygiene at the time. Ref: Herman Schmidt, Bullen family, Auckland, c. 1890s, Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 31-68325 One very plausible theory, is that smiles were differentl

The Milford Track

Recently I walked the Milford Track . Today it takes just three days of walking a well formed path. I am a tramper and I found it a challenge, so what was it like for the early pioneers? The first settler at Milford Sound was Donald Sutherland (1843/44-1919) who in 1880 discovered the Sutherland Falls. Ref: James Richardson/Burton Brothers, Milford Sound with the 'City of Milford', 1878-1880, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-930 Sutherland started building a track to allow visitors access to the falls but the rugged Fiordland coast made finding an overland route from Lake Te Anau essential. Ref: CW Sundstrum, Sutherland Falls, Milford Sounds, 1907, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19070228-15-3

Hairstyles for women

In an earlier blog post , we explored the 'taxonomy of fashion', which can be used to date photographs. This was based on a blog post by Walter Cook  from The National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga O Aotearoa , which focused on photographs of middle class women from 1850s to 1920s. Apart from clothes, other the 'tricks of the trade' which let you play photo detective, include paying close attention to hairstyles. Women's hair can be a defining feature, marking their own personal sense of style. Some points in history have celebrated more elaborate 'dos' more so than others. The images below are drawn from 1909/1910 and were taken by Herman John Schmidt (1872-1959) , an Auckland photographer based at a studio in the Edson Building, 270 Queen Street. This photographs are from the collections held at the Sir George Grey Special Collections at the Central City Library and you can find out more about Schmidt here . Walter Scott notes that the pile