Sunday, October 28, 2007


REAL GOLD - Treasures of Auckland City Libraries
Text by Iain Sharp, Photographs by Haruhiko Sameshima
Auckland Univerity Press $50
This book has such an appropriate title as it is indeed filled with real gold, some 100 of the great treaures to be found in the Special Collections of the Auckland City Libraries.
As the Group Manager, Libraries for Auckalnd City, Allison Dobbie says in her introduction "a busy public library catering to the needs of New Zealand's most populous city is probably not the place where one expects to find medieval manuscripts, or a copy of Shakespeare's First Folio, or extremely rare editions of William Blake's "Europe" and "America", or an early versopn of The Treaty of Waitangi, or the opriginal manuscripts containing the lyrics and score of "God Defend New Zealand".
It may not be the place where you expect to find them but indeed that is where they are along with scores of others. Some that especially excited me included:
Plan of the City Park shewing the development of the first grant by the Honourable Council of the City of Auckland, March 8th, 1874.
This especailly interested me because this park today is called Western Park and I walk in it several mornings most weeks.
C.I.Hutchinson. Sketchbook. Circa 1848.
The sketchbook includes "a large number of drawings of homesteads, livestock, Landscapes and Maori items, women, carvings and canoes"
Robert Maunsell, A grammar of the New Zealand language. Auckland. John Moore. 1842.
Sir George Grey had this copy "rebound so that blank pages alternated with the printed text and he could append his own extensive commentary".
The Yellow Book, London: John Lane, 1894-97
"A quarterly hardback journal running to thirteen issues published between April 1894 and April 1897. Durings its brief duration The Yellow Book was Britain's leading literary & artistic magazine. The Library's set of all thirteen issues was purchased".
Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion
London: John Murray, 1818.
Published as a four volume set by John Murray in 1818 Murray was the foremost literary publisher in Britain at the time. And of course today that same publishing house is the publisher of Lloyd Jones' Mister Pip.
Anthony Powell Collection
First edition hardback copies of all twelve volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time.
Charles Darwin. Manuscript letters to George Grey.
Of special interest to me because of the Darwin Exhibition at the Auckland Museum currently showing and Lloyd Davis' recent splendid title, Looking for Darwin (Longacre Press)
But these are a mere handful of the 100 treasures so wonderfully described by Iain Sharp and beautifully photographed by Haruhiko Sameshima.
This book is itself a treasure.



1 comment:

Grateful Citizen said...

I absolutely agree with your enthusiastic assessment of this title.What a beauty snd how fortunate we are to have these treasures safely preserved and accesible in our wonderful library.
Reading this book over the weekend really opened my eyes to the part that Sir George Grey played in our country when we were but a young colony. What foresight. He made himself totally fluent in Maori so that he wrote to various Maori chiefs in their own langauage and conducted meetings in Maori when desired or needed. Brilliant man, and then donated all those books and other treasures to the people.
Thank you Iain Sharp and your photographer and Auckland University Press. Perhaps in a year or two, Real Gold Part Two, when another 100 treasures could be described.