Your Bid, Sir


N. Z.
PHONE 75-555


As this is my ONLY Loan Copy, kindly return promptly to above address.


Dear Mr. Vogtherr,

Thank you for the kind loan of “Your Bid Sir” and “No Regrets”. I enjoyed them very much. I feel they would be informative readings to a wider range of interested people, and at some stage if you feel like adapting or making available the works for publication as your original suggestion in “Arts and Community”, Antique readers section of the paper.
Please communicate with me.
Once again, thanking you.

Harland Baker.
Harland Baker Publishing Ltd

[photograph of porcelain figure]



Special numbered and autographed edition of fifty only


This humble effort is not intended for the scholar, the expert, or the “wise guy” but for the pleasure of my friends and the ordinary bloke like myself.
The Author

Swailes, Hurst & Co. Ltd.


By the same Author

“NO REGRETS” – 1966


Copyright E.G.F. Vogtherr

[photograph of Jack Williams]





Excerpt from “Books and Bookmen” by my friend P. A. Lawlor.

“In Hastings, until a few years ago, was the strangest shop of all. You could only just get in the front door. In doing so you viewed the topless towers of Illium as manifested in books. In the picture, you will see Williams the proprietor like a triumphant Everest explorer. The shop reached the celebrity of a full page feature in Sydney ‘Pix’. Williams had serendipity in excelsis for it is said that at short notice he could produce from his tower or his bulging shelves many of the books you were searching for. I don’t think I ever bought a book from him. I used to peep in the door, shudder, and, looking at my watch, hurry on like the White Rabbit to another appointment.”

– Photo by courtesy of P. A. Lawlor. Esq.

[Vogtherr family crest]



In the world of antiques, collectors of books, porcelain, paintings, etc. face a very interesting problem, in no other sphere does the phrase “Caveat Emptor”, “let the buyer beware”, become so meaningful. In no other sphere are there so many opportunities for cheating, deceiving and in many cases plain ordinary ignorance existing to defeat the collector.

In New Zealand in particular, there are very few knowledgeable persons who can advise the amateur collector and it is always desirable to cultivate the reputable auctioneer, dealer, bookseller, etc., if you want to avoid the pitfalls that entrap us all at some time or other, few are the collectors who have not fallen for a good line of patter only to find out later that they have been sold a pup. Most of us buy anything and everything when we start collecting and most of us are familiar with the quiet “clean out” as our knowledge is improved, often at some cost.

I have been lucky to have friends such as Bethune & Co. of Wellington, where Andy Fair and Laurie Pollock have done many kindly acts on my behalf, John McDonald and Leighton Dixon of Dixon Antiques Ltd. have been most kind to me and they are always welcome guests to my home. There are many other dealers, auctioneers, etc. where I have done occasional business and one has to decide for oneself in whose hands and whose advice you will place your confidence and acceptance.

Collecting can be most absorbing and I strongly recommend it as a hobby for the person contemplating retirement, as it has meant so much to me, compulsorily retired owing to ill health. It opened up a whole new world to me, new interests, new ideas, new friends, a constant joy and a great stimulant.

When buying, study your project, set a value and go to it, remembering at all times that “he who hesitates is lost”. I have, personally, endeavoured to keep the financial aspect out of my hobby, once one becomes involved in this manner one becomes a dealer rather than a collector, so that within the limits of my finances I have bought “what I like”, although, of course, one must consider one’s purse and cut the cloth accordingly and also have regard to a possible resale or replacement, in short, buy sensibly if possible.

I believe a weakness in the Antique business in New Zealand, and I suppose elsewhere, is the problem of the dealer collector. As in other businesses I think one must be rigid, for instance, one cannot be a wholesaler and retailer without running into all sorts of trouble and the same must pertain to the antique dealer, otherwise he would always keep the plums for himself. This could lead to a lack of trust on the part of the ordinary collector and trust is an essential if both parties are to be happy.

My main objective in building up this small and modest collection is to leave to the people of Hawke’s Bay something of value, something beyond the pleasures of modern society, something of a world now past and gone, something to encourage the young people to love the artistic, the beautiful, the craftsmanship of bygone days.

Concluding this portion of my little book I think it would be fitting to quote something I once read, a statement by a very great writer and collector, the late Dr. Robt. McNab, M.P., this is how he referred to books and book collecting. He said, “Books are acquired by collectors in three ways: (1) In a way the collectors would delight to publish in the columns of the most respectable city newspapers; (2) In a way a collector would delight to describe to an audience under a solemn promise that it would never be repeated outside; and (3) In a way a collector would only allow himself to think of when he had carefully satisfied himself that he was alone.” I would add that the only way to collect is with enthusiasm.

One frequently hears of members of the Medical Profession advising people to prepare for their retirement when about forty years of age, this I heartily endorse. It takes years to acquire that sense of what is “worth collecting”, it takes years of study and research to find out about your selected line of country and by the time you do finally retire you have some settled idea of what you would like to collect, where to collect, and also your finances are more likely to be able to stand the strain. After a few years one starts to “clean out” the early mistakes and errors and with the limited accommodation that most New Zealanders have, you realise that only the best that you can afford is worth while. It is always a good motto to keep by you, always “Buy the Best you can Afford”. I always remember a very good friend of mine saying, “How is it, Ernie, people always want what YOU have got?” The answer was easy, I had always, through life, tried to “Buy the Best that I Could Afford”.

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One day in the early days of World War II, a short, thickset man walked into my office, threw a book, somewhat tattered, on to the desk and said,“You should buy this,” and that is how it all started. The man, Jack Williams, a famous second hand book dealer, the same Jack Williams who shared my first aeroplane flight in the old De Haviland which was taking passengers for joy rides from the old aerodrome in Maraekakaho Road, Hastings. The book, “New Zealand” by Edward Wakefield and titled inside, “N.Z. after Fifty Years”, dated 1889, price £1 and not worth very much more today. I still have it and will never part with it, as this was the absolute start of my collector-mania. I muddled along for a few years exchanging knowledge and information with my good friend Les. Bayliss of Takapau, and occasionally coming in contact with writers such as J. G. Wilson of Hatuma, the author of the “Centennial History of Hawke’s Bay”, and others such as the “Founding of Hawke’s Bay”. I had the unusual pleasure of perusing the manuscript of this book before it was published, also “The History of Hatuma”, written for the occasion of the Golden Jubilee, 1951. Mr. Wilson mislaid my order for this book but very kindly gave me his own copy which contained the handwritten account of the Jubilee Celebrations by himself, pasted in the back. This will, of course, be unique and it is for such things as this that I search most diligently, for the unique, the unusual.

Another friend of mine was the late Lester Masters who has written several books, two of the most important being “Tales of the Mails” and “Back Country Tales”. I was responsible for these being published in limited, numbered editions and just prior to his death, Mr. Masters requested me to check over his last book for possible errors

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with the idea of publishing another edition, this, of course, never eventuated. Lester Masters, a tiny man, an orchardist, was a great lover of the outback and had a vast fund of knowledge relating to the hinterland of Hawke’s Bay. He also published a few books of poems.

In my early collecting days I well remember a friend of mine coming to see me and in a shamefaced manner told me how he had fallen for a New Zealand book and paid thirteen quid for it, “for heaven’s sake don’t tell anyone,” he said. The book? The First Edition of “Buller’s Birds of New Zealand”. My hat, thirteen quid and today worth about £85 or more, those were the days! !

I muddled along for a while buying occasionally any old New Zealand book that happened along. I remember buying for 2/6 at a sale “New Zealand Illustrated” published by A. D. Willis & Co., Wanganui, in 1889, it contained a number of lithographs of old New Zealand towns and cities. This book was an awkward size and always annoyed me because of this, it fitted no shelves and I have always liked to keep my books tidy and accessable, so recently I decided to sell it. A well known second hand bookseller offered me £1 if it was complete. I had never examined it thoroughly but on doing so I found that someone had cleverly cut out the two centre lithographs, so bang went my quid. However, I too got a bright idea, I would sell the lithographs separately, This I did at various sales and for my 2/6 I received about £45! ! ! But this is one of the few good deals that I have made.

One of the first books I bought was Vol. VI of White’s “Early History of The Maori”, this I bought at the sale of effects of the late George Graham, a very good friend of mine. George Graham was an Ulsterman with a black beard and a huge sense of humour. As a lad he and a friend used to act as guides on Mount Cook and one day he heard that the English mountaineer, Edward Whymper, was to make an attempt to climb Mt. Cook, which as yet had never been climbed. I will never forget the impish glee on Graham’s face as he described how he and his mate climbed

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Mt. Cook during the night, and what Whymper said, and did, when he found the two lads there before him.

Graham also told me a very good story about my own father-in-law. They were both pioneer settlers in the Forty Mile Bush and both had growing families who used occasionally to have family gatherings at which “Caledonian Sports” were a favourite game with the kids. On this occasion my wife, then a little girl, came running along and my father-in-law said to Graham, “that’s a nice looking kiddie.” Graham looked at him in amazement and said, “Don’t you know your own children?” George Graham had a fund of such stories and with his twinkling eyes, impish grin and black beard, made a delightful raconteur.

Then one day I decided to visit one of Bethune’s historic book sales. Bethune’s had been holding such sales for about 100 years and I decided it was a must, I must see one of these. That visit proved a turning point in my book collecting career, the atmosphere was delightful, the buyers, nice, quiet, thoughtful people, representatives of dealers, libraries, universities, etc. The sale, conducted in a dignified manner with occasional sallies of dry wit, suited my temperament and I determined that this would not be my last visit, nor was it. But one result was that I packed up about three benzine cases of books and sent them off to Bethune’s for sale, I had seen the light.

I had realised very quickly that only a small select core of New Zealand Books were valuable and one had to collect carefully and wisely. Many books reached a value of two or three pounds and stuck at that and could be bought at any time. These I decided to bypass and concentrate on the better copies, look for good bindings, limited autographed first editions, those containing letters, manuscripts, etc., and I would strongly recommend this method to collectors, especially the newcomer, as it will save him many disappointments, heartbreaks and much hard cash.

Most books are bought at various sales, but Bethune’s stands supreme, it sets the standard. I have bought a few books privately, namely Guthrie-Smith’s “Tutira” which I

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bought from a chap who called to see me, for a tenner. Whilst in Wellington Hospital, recovering from an operation, John McDonald “tossed” me whether I would give him forty pounds or forty-two pounds for a first edition of Buller’s Birds once owned by W. Sefton Moorhouse, a one time superintendent of Canterbury Province, of course, I lost. The other patients were tickled pink to see a man in my condition tossing to see whether he would pay £40 or £42 for a book! ! ! Mad, yes, but they weren’t collectors. I paid another well known local lawyer £42 for the second edition of Buller’s Birds and felt very guilty, could I afford it? Now they are worth over £100! ! !

Recently I heard of a man having a very good copy of Savage’s “New Zealand”, published in 1807, he wanted £30 for it. I duly visited him but he decided he could not bear to part with it so I returned home empty handed. Later however I visited him again to find him still hesitant, I asked him if another fiver would help him to make up his mind, it did, and the book now graces my shelves.

However to any prospective collector I would advise that he procure a number of books published on collecting. Firstly he must have “Guide to Book Values” published by A. Fair. This originated in 1948 under the guise of “The Bibliophilist’s Guide to New Zealand Book Values” limited to 250 copies, this became “Guide to Book Values” in 1952, followed again by the 1956-61 edition (limited to 500 copies). This publication shows the prices of all books sold at the sales of Bethune & Co. over the years, this is now due for re-publication with the latest figures which have shown rapid increases since last published. This book is a must and is in itself a collector’s piece. The “Bibliography of New Zealand Literature” by T. M. Hocken is also very necessary as a reference book, to be without “Hocken”, as it is familiarly known, is unthinkable for a collector. Other books of reference are “The Lure of New Zealand Book Collecting” by Johannes Andersen,“Books and Bookmen” by P. A. Lawlor and there is also a very good article in Vol. 3 of “History and Bibliography” that is very helpful to

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beginners. Armed with these one can then venture forth with a fair knowledge of what and what not to buy.

When I first ventured forth “The Ancient History of the Maori” was the vogue, “White’s” as it was known, being by John White, was always sure of a good demand, especially Vol. 5 which was in short supply as this volume had been lost in a fire at the Government Printing Office and is now worth £25 whilst the rest of the series bring from £2 to £6 each with the exception of the illustrations which can make up to £10. My first set cost me £40, a New Zealand record at the time, this was bound in the original red cloth with the illustrations bound in the original blue paper wrappers. Later I purchased a set in better condition and mostly bound in half calf for £50, again a record, I eventually got together a nice set all in half calf except Vol. 5 which is in original red cloth. One day a lovely set came up at Bethune’s, complete set in half calf being a special set, bound for members of Parliament. I bid hopefully for it, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty pounds, how silly could a man get I thought, and pulled out at eighty pounds. It went, I believe, to a doctor and with it my best wishes, for it was a lovely set. I have now completed the set in half calf, including the illustrations, making a very fine set indeed.

Years went by and I collected, discarded, etc. and gradually became very selective, the only way to get together a worth while collection. Many incidents, some funny, some tragic occurred in this period, but win or lose the joy of securing a long desired treasure makes up for everything. Sitting next to a friend one day at Bethune’s I waited patiently for a lovely copy of “Moko” by Major  General Robley, it was in good order and had in addition one or two prints, sketches, etc. by the author and had the signature of the late Percy Smith, author, historian and collector, on the fly leaf. This started out at a modest figure but gradually it rose to £12/10/- at which figure it was knocked down to me. As it was now about 3 p.m. and I had a two hundred mile journey in front of me, I said to

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by Sir W. L. Buller
1st edition 1873
2nd Edition, 2 Vols., 1888
Supplements, 2 Vols., 1905

by G. F. Angas

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my friend, “I’d better be going now.” His response rather surprised me for he was generally a most quiet spoken man, “I wish to Ch – – – – you’d gone long ago!” I did not know that he too had wanted the book, ah well! ! Since then I have acquired Robley’s other book “Pounamo”, this also cost me £12/12/-.

Later I happened to be at Bethune’s when an art sale was in progress when up came an original water colour by Robley of the “Tattooed Gate, Maketu”, on the back was a full description by Robley of how he had persuaded the Maori to “do his stuff” whilst he painted him. This historic piece cost me £27 but it made a welcome addition to my Robley acquisitions.

It would take too much time and space to describe how I acquired all the desirable books as they came along but some incidents are deserving of being recorded and I think the gem would be the occasion when the No. 1 aristocrat of the New Zealand bookworld, as Pat Lawlor describes “The New Zealanders Illustrated” by G. F. Angas, but always known simply as the “Angas”, came up for sale. It was a magnificent copy, in the separate parts as issued to the 177 subscribers in 1846. The price then was £1/1/- each for the ten parts with sixty coloured plates all told. The size was imperial folio and in my case the parts were loose in a solander case and almost as new. This was the same publication that the Queen (from the Windsor Castle Library) presented to the New Zealand Government on the occasion of her last visit to New Zealand. The price of “The Angas” in Johannes Andersen’s book was £45, in Pat Lawlor’s it had risen to £65, obviously I had been born too late.

It was expected that this copy which Bethune’s were to sell in this instance would bring at least £300. I decided that possibly never again would such a good copy become available as so many were now disappearing into libraries, museums, universities, etc., to say nothing of the private collector, so I decided I would go down to the sale and bid for it. My health, whilst it had improved somewhat, was still extremely unpredictable, so that one could never plan

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ahead, with all arrangements completed, sure enough trouble ensued, I was confined to bed! ! I As soon as it became certain that I could not travel I rang my son and asked him if he could spare a day from his business. He had never attended a sale at Bethune’s and jumped at the chance. He duly left Napier Airport at about 7.45 a.m. and arrived in Wellington in time to witness the Angas being  submitted. I had told him “to buy” and suggested going to around £400. I also told him to bid up to £100 for an original 1st Edition of “Rambles in New Zealand”, 1841 by J. C. Bidwell, this book cost 2/6 when published and here I was prepared to give £100 for it, how crazy can we get?

Apparently bidding for the Angas was spirited until £300 was reached and then a duel ensued up to the £400. Now my son had the “wind up”, completely inexperienced, he knew that I wanted it, he also knew that £400 was an awful lot of money, what was he to do? Fortunately for him, he decided to go on with it and bid £405 and this price secured it. Laurie Pollock did not know him and of course asked his name, “Vogtherr,” he said. “What name?” said Laurie. “VOGTHERR,” said my son. Laurie scratched his head and looking at him said, “I’m used to seeing a different face under that name!” Gordon, my son, waited for the Bidwell to be offered and ran along with it to £114 when he wisely pulled out, but not without some qualms. However, Andy Fair assured him that he would have had to go to £140 to get it, so he duly arrived home by air that afternoon and was having his tea before 5 p.m. having been to Wellington and back and secured the top ranking book on the New Zealand market at a New Zealand record price of £405, quite a day! ! !

Incidentally a dealer informed me that a friend had paid £500 for a tatty copy since, taken out the prints, and if he kept up his present average per print, he would get about £900 for his £500, quite an investment, some prints brought £25 each. Since this, a wealthy Auckland buyer paid £630 for the “Angas” and just recently the Turnbull Library paid £760 for a copy at a sale in Melbourne,

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Australia, so apparently the sky’s the limit. Later I myself bought privately an excellent copy of “Bidwell’s Rambles” for £100 so our caution was justified. I also acquired from the same owner a good copy of “A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand” by Lee & Kendall, a very desirable collector’s piece, this cost me £65. The most desirable books were now becoming very expensive and almost out of reach of plain John Citizen, a pity.

Attending a sale at Bethune’s can be tedious, expensive, tiring, exciting and disappointing, anything can happen, and to one of my disposition most enjoyable, for one never knows what will happen. You could be pleased, annoyed, disappointed but never dull. One of my disappointing days occurred sometime in 1964, the catalogue had not been as interesting as most but there were one or two items that I particularly desired, not that they were particularly valuable or expensive, just rather rare and to me desirable. I had two particular tragedies occur that day, the first was a copy of Lady Barker’s “Travelling about over New Zealand”, not a very exciting item but it was one of the most beautifully bound books that I have seen and I actually did not have that book on my shelves. Not being sure that I would arrive in time I had commissioned Laurie Pollock to bid up to a fiver for me. However, I did arrive in time, and asked Andy Fair just what should I do, bid myself or leave it to Laurie? “Leave it to Laurie,” advised Andy. I did, and had the mortification of seeing my beautiful book sold to a South Island dealer for £3/2/6, Laurie had forgotten my bid, the only time I have ever known of Bethune’s “slipping”.

I had not so far acquired the “Supplements” to Buller’s Birds of New Zealand and had seen them go steadily upwards in value, too high in my opinion, but how high is too high? I had seen them steadily rise, £40, £50, £60 whilst I kept on waiting for a “bargain” and “bargains” no longer exist in the New Zealand book world, everyone is well aware of values and the longer you wait the more you pay. On this same day a fine sample of the two volumes were put

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up, a slightly damaged set of the second edition of “The Birds” was sold just prior to the “Supplements” and brought £70, quite a reasonable price. This gave me hope for a reasonable purchase so I bid steadily for the “Supplements”, unfortunately someone else had the same idea and before Laurie Pollock knocked them down to me they had reached £82/10/- and since then they have reached £95, so what then is “TOO DEAR”?

So far the day had not been very kind to me and there was more to follow. I secured a privately printed copy of “Notes on Early Life in New Zealand” by George Clarke, for £2/2/6, not bad for so limited a printing. There followed a nice copy of James Cowan’s “Settlers and Pioneers” and a beautiful copy of “History of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand” by the Rev. John Dixon. A beautiful edition-de-luxe, superbly bound and tooled in gilt with gilt edges, beautifully printed on first class paper, this was No. 19 of an edition of 100 copies and autographed by the author and the price £2/5/-, one of the few bargains that I have secured.

Later I secured a copy of “A Narrative of Nine Months Residence in New Zealand” by Augustus Earle, this was the 1909 edition and will stay with me only until I get a copy of the 1832 edition. I also secured a copy of “Memoirs of Sir William Herries” and Hocken’s “The Early History of New Zealand”, followed by E. H. McCormick’s two books “Letters and Art in New Zealand” and “The Expatriate”. A more interesting buy was a signed presentation copy of “The Taieri Allens and Related Families” at £2/2/6, I considered this one of my better buys. Irvine-Smith’s “Streets of My City” followed, together with a superb copy of Dr. McLintock’s “The Port of Otago”, a numbered and signed edition of 150 only, could not be considered dear at £3/10/-, it was as new. Prices seemed to have slumped somewhat, perhaps it was too near to Christmas, at any rate I secured two of Eric Ramsden’s books “Busby of Waitangi”, quite a desirable acquisition, and “Rangiatea, the Story of Otaki Church”. I was particularly interested in the late Eric Ramsden’s works as I had made his acquaintance in

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connection with my collecting of “Goldie” paintings and his rather sudden demise soon afterwards led me to acquire those of his books that came available. Guy Scholefield is another author whom I think worth collecting and this day I secured “Newspapers in New Zealand”. This I have found most interesting and have found many of my friends and acquaintances figuring in its pages.

Then the item I had waited all day for was put up, a very small book,“The Life of John Plimmer” by John Young. John Plimmer was known as the “Father of Wellington” and this privately printed item was bound to become valuable, I must have this. It started quietly at 10/- I think, crept quietly along in 2/6 bids until at 30/- I sensed something happening, there was only myself and a girl’s voice apparent, but on it went £2, £3, £4. By now the audience were highly amused, they scented a fight, on it went in 2/6 bids, taking quite some time, the girl was determined and so was I, £4/10/-, £5, how far would she go, it was now becoming ridiculous. Finally at £5/10/- I heard her give a gasp of desperation as she bid £5/12/6, up went my hand in almost the same sort of desperation, £5/15/-, and down came the hammer. “Your Bid, Sir,” from Laurie Pollock and grins of amusement circulated around the room, I felt I had won but at what a price! !

The sale finished soon afterwards, I had had a mixed day but it was not finished yet. As I made for the desk to collect my wares I saw two ladies coming towards me, the elder lady approached me. “Mr. Vogtherr?” “Yes.” “Do you really want that book on John Plimmer?” My heart sank, and only then did I realise the position, “Well, yes,” I replied defensively, “I waited all day for that book. Why?” “This young lady is a grand-daughter of John Plimmer,” said the lady. This answered the riddle. What could I do? Reluctantly I said, “Oh, you take it. Tell Bethune’s to charge it to you.” I could do no less. I came away with mixed feelings, one book lost through a bad memory and the other out of sentiment, oh, boy, a sale room is no place for a sentimental bloke.

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What a day, some good buys, some dear ones and a couple of disappointments, who’d be a collector?

One of the joys of collecting is that “You never know”. Some time ago I bought from a dealer a set of “Cooks Voyages”, obviously rebound but in splendid condition, price £10. At Cordy & Co.’s sale in Auckland some months ago, a similar set was sold for £65, fortunately for the collector he does win sometimes.

A very valuable help for collectors is the very fine series of catalogues put out from time to time by Smith’s Book shop, in Mercer Street, Wellington. I am sure that a note to Dick Reynolds, the proprietor, would be sufficient to have your name recorded on his mailing list, it does help to have these latest price lists available. I rarely buy more than one or two items per sale after having thoroughly scrutinised the catalogue, making sure of the condition, edition, etc., all of which information is scrupulously supplied by both Bethune & Co., and Cordy & Co. Ltd., a new firm operating in Auckland, and who issue an excellent catalogue for which an annual fee is charged which guarantees you a catalogue for each sale plus a list of prices received for each item, a very valuable service.

After building up a sizeable collection one should then concentrate on securing special editions, etc., fine copies, autographed and numbered editions. This often means that you replace books you have already acquired and as prices are rising for good stuff, one generally comes out on the right side of the deal.

Recently I acquired a very fine copy of “The Art and Workmanship of the Maori Race” by A. Hamilton. I had been after a copy of this work for some time but usually the price was too high, in this case a superb copy was offered, unique in that in place of gilt edges it had an unusual Maori pattern, a very good copy. Keen competition ran it up to £42/10/- at which price it was knocked down to me. A well known dealer tapped me on the shoulder and remarked, “That would have cost you £65 from me,” so maybe I had made a good deal.

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Recently there was offered in an Auckland sale a superb copy of “The Forest Flora of New Zealand” by T. Kirk. This was a magnificent copy, a presentation copy with luxury bindings, marbled edges, full morocco with raised bands, gilt tooling, inlaid corners and reinforced hinges and of course was the “large paper” edition, I bid £15, but it was passed in. It was again offered at a later sale so I stepped my bid up to £20 and it was duly knocked down to me. As I already had the standard edition, having paid £5 for it some time ago, I had this for sale, and it was quickly snapped up privately for £10, so I came out of this deal rather better than usual. Other books worth mentioning are the unexpurgated edition of “History of New Zealand”, three volumes, by G. W. Rusden, The publication of this work resulted in the libel action against Rusden which in itself produced the book “Bryce versus Rusden” which I also have and complimentary to these is the other Rusden book “Aureretanga, or Groans of the Maories” My copy of this was only secured after a long fight, being a splendid copy in half calf many people were anxious to acquire it and I had to go to £6 to secure it, quite a high price for this work, a record I should imagine.

Another unexpurgated work that is worth acquiring is “Hauhauism” by S. B. Babbage. This is not an expensive book, around 50/-, but it will increase in value. If one keeps one’s eyes open at sales one can often find something of interest, recently Dick Reynolds drew my attention to a book that he had just bought. As he “flipped” through the pages a beautiful painted landscape became apparent, nothing showed on casual inspection but as the pages “flipped over” the painting became apparent. Every now and then rare items appear as old collections are offered for sale. At a recent sale of Hugh Carleton’s library many such items appeared, I was fortunate enough to secure “Present Government of New Zealand” by James Edward Fitzgerald (autographed by author) at a cost of £14 and “Our Colonial Empire” by James Busby (autographed by author) at £20, both expensive but in excellent condition and almost

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certainly never to be seen again at any sale. I count myself fortunate to have been able to secure these.

There are, of course, many more books that go to make up a representative collection of New Zealand books, for New Zealand seems to have had an extraordinary number of writers, historians, etc., another chapter will make a brief reference to the most desirable of these.

Curiously enough a catalogue from Smith’s Bookshop arrived whilst penning these lines, and very good catalogues does my friend Dick Reynolds put out these days. In this particular issue I found a couple that I really wanted. One, the 1st Edition of “A Narrative of a Nine Month’s Residence in New Zealand in 1827” by Augustus Earle. I already had the 1909 edition but this was a very special one published in 1832 and formerly owned by Sir George Hayter, the well known artist and official painter to Queen Victoria. The book contained a special sticker, printed for the occasion, showing it to be a present to his son Angelo C. Hayter, who also was an artist. It was peculiar how this book came my way seeing how interested I am in early English painters. Specially bound, with the initials G.H. in gilt on the spine as well as the date 1832 in Roman numerals, it is indeed a gem to be proud of. The other book was the “Life of Cook” by Andrew Kippis, 1788, this also was something special being a fine copy of a rather rare (indeed unrecorded) edition, as the catalogue blurb puts it, being published in Dublin. Certainly this edition does not appear in Hocken, is very well bound and completely uncut. Finally I come to the third purchase. This indeed surprised even me when it arrived, buying from catalogues can be disappointing but on this occasion it was pure joy. This edition of Padovan and Barrow’s “Te-Ika-a-Maui”, a portfolio of Maori Art by Dr. Padovan and Tui Terence Barrow (Ethnologist) contains 26 hand-mounted lithos signed in pencil, with notes on the plates. Only 35 of these portfolios were published and this is No. 31 and has with it a signed presentation card from the Artist to the Author. It is absolutely as new and enclosed in dark blue portfolio, 20″ x 15 1/2″, cloth boards fastened

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with domes and gilt lettered. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when it arrived by air some two hours after I bought it per ’phone in Wellington, some book, some service. I suppose, really, this book must also be included in the chapter to follow on paintings, etchings, etc., but dealing with Maori Art as it does, I felt I must include it also in this chapter.

Just for the record, “New Zealand” by G. F. Angas has been creating some excitement in the bookworld. In 1961 the first big price was recorded, £210; in 1963 this rose to the price that I paid, £405; then in 1964 there were two sales recorded, £400, and the still record New Zealand price £650. In 1965 a slightly damaged copy was sold in Auckland for £430, but the local bookworld was really startled when the Turnbull Library paid £760 for a copy at a sale held in Melbourne. Why the library paid this terrific price remains a mystery.

OBITUARY. There recently died an author who has made a very great impact on the literary world in New Zealand, the late R. M. Burden. I had most of his writings and since his death his last book arrived from the publishers. This, entitled “The New Dominion” should, from a rather hurried glance through, be a valuable contribution to the records of political happenings in New Zealand since the early 1900’s.

1966. The recent sale held by Bethune’s was one of the most exciting that I have attended. Mr. Fair informed me that they had at least 2000 outside bids, and I did hear that one outside buyer had lodged 400 bids. Another active bidder was an agent for the University of California, but my own private opinion was that they were not buying the “right” stuff. By this I refer to the rarer offerings, the others one can buy at almost any sale, and the price does not fluctuate very much. Latterly I have concentrated on purchasing the rarer books, those published before 1870, those with better bindings, limited, autographed editions, those containing letters, cuttings, etc. Many of these books I already have but perhaps just the ordinary edition or perhaps not in the

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best condition so that I am now building up quite a nice, presentable, library though of quite small dimensions, possibly about 600 volumes all told.

Amongst those acquired at this last sale were some that I had not previously seen at any sale and naturally prices were rather high. Two items that I replaced were Cowan & Pomare’s “Legends of the Maories”and the Department of Internal Affairs Centennial publication “Making New Zealand”. It will be remembered that the publishers of the deluxe limited edition of “Legends of the Maori”, a superb publication, and one that I had never seen submitted at auction before, failed, and the production of the library edition was completed by Mr. Tombs, one of the original partners in the firm, as an act of faith, one that the public greatly appreciated. I had to pay £33 to acquire this item but as I sold my own library edition at a much enhanced price, it stands me at quite a reasonable figure. Practically the same applied to “Making New Zealand”, I had only recently discovered that my copy, though bound, actually only contained 28 parts instead of 30 so I purchased a complete set at this sale for £13 and sold my own for quite a good figure, so again I have a fine set at a reasonable price.

Whilst on this question of “swapping over” I could mention that recently I purchased a quite good set of “Bullers Birds” 2nd Edition. The spine binding was a bit tatty, but the plates and the rest were in superb condition and completely free from “foxing”, and in addition contained the autograph of the original owner who had also been one of the original subscribers, all this adds to the interest and value of the item. My own set I sold for £85 and as the new set, after spine repairs stood me at £81, I came out of the change over quite well, especially as I had only paid £40 for my set in the first place.

At this sale came up the “Trial of Edward Gibbon Wakefield”, this I believe had never been offered before and I had to go to £28 to secure it. Another interesting item was “Polynesian Mythology” by Sir G. Grey, 1855, enclosed

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was a letter from Pomare, King of Tahiti, to Captain Martin of the brig “Queen Charlotte” which stated in Pomare’s own fine handwriting, “Sir, I have sent you by the bearer a Bottle of spirits. Please let me know what do you want about coconuts. I remain yours, etc. Pomare King of Tahiti.” And dated 6th of May, 1815, this of course adds greatly to the value of the book. Also at the same sale I acquired “The New Zealand Question” by Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, dated 1848 and inscribed “For R. M. Martin (Judge Martin) from the Author”. Another rare item also came my way being by James Busby and entitled “Remarks upon a pamphlet entitled The Taranaki Question” dated 1860. This cost me £15/15/- and I was informed by a well known dealer that this was cheap. All in all it was a most interesting sale as I also acquired two volumes of “Rembrandt Etchings” by L. Munze, in new condition, and also “The water colour drawings of Thos. Rowlandson” together with “Thos. Rowlandson, his Life and Art” also in fine condition. Books such as these are rarely offered in New Zealand and made a most desirable addition to my books on Art. A fine copy of “Maori Patterns” went to a friend of mine because I was not fully aware of its true value, good luck to him! ! !

On a rather sadder note, I also bought a 4th Edition of “Hawaiki” in which was inscribed “Maurice Crompton Smith, with the Author’s Love”, New Plymouth, April 1922; and underneath “My father wrote above on his death bed; he died on April 19th. M. C. Smith.” S. Percy Smith has long been a highly respected figure in the book world of New Zealand and many of his writings are now  bringing high figures, the history of New Zealand will be the richer for his writings. My final purchase at this most interesting of sales was “Te Tohunga” by W. Dittmer, again in fine condition. His interpretation of Maori Mythology was so different, his drawings so original, that I was led to compare the interpretation of the late Mervyn Taylor, Dittmer and Stuart Peterson, all superb artists, yet all so different in their interpretation of the same legends. Truly I do enjoy my collecting and the research that follows.

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Following on my remarks re the prices obtained for the Angas; during the past month, June 1966, two important sales were made, at Cordy & Co. Ltd. of Auckland, £600 was obtained for a fine copy; whilst at McKearney’s of Hastings, £550 was obtained on the same day.

Another memorable sale took place at Bethune’s on February 21st, 1967, at this sale were offered a large number of books from the collection of the late L. J. Paul, so many of these came up and all in superb condition that I could not resist buying and finished up with a bill for nearly £210. The two most notable were “New Zealand”, 1843, by Lieut. Wood, a small book of only 62 pages, it ran up to £50 before being knocked down to me. The other, “Otago, A Warning” by “Aliguis”, in reality a Captain Henderson. Written in 1886, it so enraged a Dunedin citizen that he bought up and burnt all the copies that he could find and today there are only three copies known to exist, one in the  Turnbull Library, one in the Hocken Library and this one. Published at 6d it cost me £65 to acquire.

During May 1967 a sensational press statement announced that a copy of an Angas “New Zealanders” had been sold for £900 in Auckland and the same week Smith’s Bookshop (Dick Reynolds) displayed a copy priced at £840, how high can this book go? Dick Reynolds thinks it will rise another £400 within five years, we shall see.

1968 brought its sensations, firstly we had a spate of reprints, Brees “Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand”, Wakefield’s “Illustrations in New Zealand”, Angas “The New Zealanders”, etc., but they did not affect in any way the value and prices of the originals.

Then, of course, we had the greatest tragedy that has occurred in the New Zealand Book World, the decision of Messrs. Bethune & Co. to discontinue their regular book sales after a period of close on a century, during which time they established a reputation for honesty, reliability and integrity that would be hard to equal. For me it came as a shock, a black shadow, as I had enjoyed the periodical visit to their sales and always looked upon them as occasions to

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remember. There had been rumours that this might happen, but when it did, it rocked the collector’s world like some cataclasmic earth tremor. Unannounced, it just seeped out gradually and was passed on from collector to collector almost in whispers. Smith’s Bookshop included a valedictory notice in their catalogue reading “Valedictory for a Ninety Year Old”. Bethune’s Book Sales 1877-1967. “We deeply regret the passing of this old established institution. Pressure of other business has required the partners to discontinue further sales of Books, Pictures, Antiques, etc. It is pleasant to record how generous Mr. Fair and Mr. Pollock have been with their time and their expertise for many years; but it is regrettable that this source of bargains, this scrupulous balance of market-prices and this famous recruiting ground of interest in Pacific History is something we wont share with the future.” Yes, the salt has somehow lost its savour for me.

However, Mr. Fair has not altogether lost touch with his friends and recently he told me he had the collection of a friend of us both, who was ill in hospital, to dispose of. From this collection I secured the following gems; Angas “Savage Life and Scenes” 2 Vols., Schofield’s “Dictionary of New Zealand Biography” 2 Vols., A Hamilton’s “Maori Art”, Dr. McLintock’s “History of Otago” De Luxe Edition, Canon Stack’s “Further Maoriland Adventures” De Luxe Edition. (This had a very special “extra” in the form of an illuminated note of thanks from the Editor, A. H. Reed, to Mr. Louis J. Vangioni. “In grateful recognition of generous and valued services to the Editor of this book.” This is a delightful piece of artistic writing.) Barraud & Travers “New Zealand Graphic and Descriptive” and S. C. Brees “Pictorial Illustrations of New Zealand”, a wonderful haul and so Andy Fair continues to serve the bibliophiles of New Zealand, long may he continue to do so. I have since heard that Smith’s Bookshop Ltd. secured the balance of the collection. Incidentally, in the Barraud & Travers publication there are 24 coloured lithographs of Barraud watercolours, mostly of the usual New Zealand views so beloved by artists, but, included is the most beautiful New

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Zealand painting that I have yet seen. “Picton Harbour”, by moonlight is a superb piece of imaginative painting and I certainly would be proud to include it in my collection.

The greatest thrill of all was yet to come, in June of this year, 1968, Cordy’s put out a most exciting catalogue, mainly of an art book collection belonging to an Auckland collector, but, inserted as a late addenda were a few rare gems of New Zealand interest, including Augustus Earle’s “Sketches in New Zealand”, E. J. Wakefield’s “Illustrations in New Zealand”, this I had never seen before,  Parkinson’s “Journey to the South Seas”, this I had had previously but had exchanged for a small drawing that I particularly desired to own, also in the catalogue was a fine copy of J. H. Menzies’ “Maori Patterns”.

I had not been in very good health for some time previous to this sale, mainly nerves owing to rather over-riding the donkey. The sale was rather a tricky business as it provided for the Porcelain, etc., pictures, and what have you, to be sold commencing at 11 a.m. on the Wednesday, the books were to be sold in the evening of both Wednesday and Thursday. This posed a problem as I had not been out in the evening for about eight years owing to my somewhat precarious state of health. A further complication was the splitting of the sale into two days and as there were about 675 books to be offered and those that I was particularly interested in were numbered 315 A. B. C. D. and E., thus placing them either at the end of the first days selling or at the beginning of the second, this was my problem. If the first it would be around midnight and this was out of the question for me. I wore my nerves to a frazzle during the few days prior to the sale, would I go by car? would I fly up? would I just send up a bid? I tossed and turned most nights trying to work it all out. Buy the books I must, but how? I sent at least three lots of bids for Peter Webb to handle for me but I always felt that I must go up, something might go wrong and these books I must have. How I was to pay for them was beside the point, I’d cross that bridge when I came to it. I knew that Smith’s had sold an

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Earle recently for $500 so had some idea of what this would bring, but the Wakefield was another matter, it had never been sold before to my knowledge, and, to cap it all, an advertisement appeared in the Listener the week prior to the sale announcing the publication of a reprint priced at $110 with a statement that the “full colour original would fetch upward of $1800 to $2000” did nothing to quieten my nerves. I decided I would leave the bids in but would go up by car on the Tuesday making a two day journey of it. However, I felt dubious about being able to stand the trip and dropped that idea. Then I decided we would fly up on the Thursday on the flight arriving at Mangere at 1.10 p.m., leaving the items I was interested in on the Wednesday to Peter Webb to buy in for me, these included a delightful tiny watercolour by Wm. Strutt which I had seen some time before and was most anxious to secure. We again changed our minds and decided to fly up on Wednesday deciding that if I took a taxi straight off the plane I could arrive at Cordy’s in time to bid for the Strutt and this we eventually did, but we were still up in the air as to the time of the selling of the books.

Our troubles were not yet over. The day broke fine and clear and we embarked on the plane at 12.20 p.m., the plane being over ten minutes late. This did nothing to help and we arrived at Mangere twenty minutes late and almost certain to be too late to bid for the watercolour. I grabbed a taxi leaving my wife to bring the luggage on the bus and arrange for hotel accommodation, etc. As expected I was too late, the Strutt was sold, Peter Webb had acquired it for me at about $25 below my posted bid so that was fine. In the catalogue was some porcelain from a well known collection, this had been passed in and on inspection I rejected the Meissen pair but was impressed by a 12″ Hochst figure of a “Beggar”, this was catalogued as being of 1820 vintage. This I felt sure was wrongly attributed and eagerly snapped it up at the quoted price of $65, this I felt sure was a bargain and someone had quite evidently ‘“slipped up”. On investigation I found that the Hochst factory closed in 1796. I was

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also able to identify the painter’s mark as being possibly that of J. P. Dannhofer, somewhere between 1762-1796.

My wife had found accommodation by now and we returned to rest for the evening session. Duly at 7 p.m. we returned to the sale and bought “Lectures on Art”, a nice volume in red morocco by John Ruskin and also the life of “Thomas Girtin” by Jonathan Wayne, but the greatest thrill of all was to see a sign chalked up saying that the New Zealand books from No. 264 would be sold on the Thursday evening, this was a great relief as it meant that those in which I was interested would be sold by 8 p.m. at the latest.

I don’t know how I filled in the next day but I was very glad to be able to visit a brother of my wife and her sister, this passed the morning very well indeed. At 7 p.m. we took our seats not knowing just what to expect, prices in general were not high and we still hoped to buy reasonably. The Earle was the first to go up, it rattled along quickly to $250 when I entered the fray, in a series of bids of $10 it rattled up to $300 when I finally secured it at $325, a very satisfactory price I felt. The Parkinson came up next, this I had hoped to get for about $60 but keen bidding pushed it up to $100 when it fell to my bid, so far so good. Then came the “piece de resistance”, the Wakefield, I held my fire until the rest tired and then entered into the competition to be greeted with “a new bidder” from the auctioneer, Peter Webb. It was soon evident that this was to be an endurance test and I was sure that I would not be the first to tire. The bidding had now passed $450 and was confined to one other buyer and myself. I had left a bid of $600 with Peter Webb in case I could not get up to the sale and this was when my judgement in going up was justified. After a hard fight it was finally knocked down to me at $625, just $25 more than I had told the auctioneer to go and that $25 could have lost the “rarest book in New Zealand” for me. I was quite happy now, the strain was off and I could relax but I waited for the Menzies “Maori Patterns” to be sold, this was knocked down to me at $75, rather more than I had expected but

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being in good order was not out of the way. All in all a very satisfactory venture and one that will have to mark the close of these accounts of my book collection days and ways.

With book collecting, it is the unknown and the unexpected that gives charm to our hobby. I have just secured from my friend, Pat Lawlor, another bibliophile of much experience, a “Maunsell’s Grammar’ in the original parts, in the original blue paper covers, a very great prize and a joy to any collector.


In this chapter I will just make brief reference to the many other highly desirable New Zealand Books that the serious collector will no doubt acquire as he goes along. With prices rising all the time it is necessary not to linger too long or they will cease to be available, as with libraries, colleges, universities, including American, Canadian, Australian and the occasional English buyer operating, the rarer editions will gradually disappear.

Of those that I particularly value apart from those already touched upon, I could mention the two volumes of Brett’s “White Wings”, all of James Cowan’s writings, Cruise’s “Journal”, Cheeseman’s “Flora”, Featon’s “Art Album of New Zealand Flora”, Potts “Out in the Open” is a very desirable item, a good copy is rare and mine, in beautiful condition, cost me £23/10/- and no doubt would cost still more today. Mrs. Hetley’s “Native Flowers of New

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Zealand” is a beautiful production and this again will cost the buyer quite a lot, mine, a beautiful copy, cost £27. Travel books on old New Zealand are now becoming rather scarce and bring high prices, those most desirable, I would say, would be, of course, “Cook’s Voyages” in its various forms, not forgetting the volume of illustrations. George Forster’s “Voyage Round the World” (2 Vol.), Hochstetter’s “New Zealand”, Charles Terry’s “New Zealand”, Yates “New Zealand” in its various editions, and of course, all Dr. Robert McNab’s writings. Maunsell’s “Grammar” in good condition is both rare and expensive. Basil Howard’s “Rakiura” is up amongst the “top brackets” already, although quite a recent book, my copy cost me £16/10/-. Another in this class is David McMillan’s signed, limited edition of “By-Ways of History and Medicine”, I had to pay £15 for my copy, a very good copy though.

Dieffenbach is a “must”, as is Elsdon Best’s “Tuhoe (2 Vol.), this too is rocketing and is up in the £20 bracket and still rising. The Government issue of “Making New Zealand” (2 Vol.) is a very desirable production and it, too, is becoming rather dear to buy. All Percy Smith’s books are worthy of a place as also are many of the books relating to our native poets and writers, the Kathleen [Katherine] Mansfield series being well worth while, whilst those of Jessie McKay’s are well worth acquiring. There are, of course, many more worthy of a place on a collector’s shelves, limited only by cash and space.

A series of absorbing interest both to book and stamp collectors of course, is the series on New Zealand Stamps by R. J. G. Collins, “The Cancellations of New Zealand”, Collins & Father’s “The Postage Stamps of New Zealand” (2 Vol.), These are rising in value almost daily and mine, bought rather late, cost me £10, £26 and £3, whilst the Collins & Watts “Postage Stamps of New Zealand” Volume III cost me £11. Finally in this chapter I must include “Life of Henry Williams” (2 Vol.) by H. Carleton, a rather contentious work but it will cost you, as it did me, £21 if not more.

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One finds many such books that may not be of very great intrinsic value may still possess some historic or other value, such as my copy of a translation into Maori of the first six books of the Old Testament. Inscribed on the fly leaf is “One of the books found in the tent of Mr. Richard Todd after he was murdered by the ‘Hauhaus’on the 28th day of November, 1870”, also tipped in is a letter from the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, giving information as to the book, also a couple of letters taken from the Glasgow Herald, dated September and October 1903, relating to the book and to Mr. Todd who evidently was a missionary, one letter is signed “H. G. Robley” who was the author of “Moko” and “Pounamo”, a very interesting “find”.

Having met the late Eric Ramsden and read some of his newspaper articles, particularly those pertaining to the works of the late C. F. Goldie, a particular hero of mine, I naturally was interested to find at a sale a copy of Ramsden’s book “Marsden and the Missions”. In this book was a typed letter of appreciation and thanks signed by the late Michael Joseph Savage, the much loved Prime Minister of New Zealand’s first Labour Government, and additionally written on the fly-leaf was “To Eve Ramsden, October 26th, 1936. ‘This, the first copy of my first book, is given in grateful acknowledgement of the help you gave in compiling it.’ Always Affectly. Eric Ramsden.” I admired Ramsden as a critic and authority on all things Maori and it gave me great pleasure to acquire this book. I have since acquired all the books written by him, including the very rare one “James Busby”.

The title “Journal van Tasman’s Reis 1642” intrigued me as it is the journal kept by Tasman in 1642 and is listed on Page 1 of Hocken, this book bears the signature of Sir

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Frederick Chapman, a New Zealand Supreme Court Judge. Seeing this title in Cordy’s catalogue I put in a bid for £10 and it duly came my way at that price which apparently had been the reserve on the book. The book is in perfect order and the only fly in the ointment is that it is in DUTCH and I can’t read it! ! !

All James Cowan’s books are worth collecting but I was especially interested in the biography of “Sir Donald Maclean” especially as I was well acquainted with his Station at Maraekakaho near Hastings. I had the usual peep at the books before Laurie Pollock commenced selling and noticed a thick bunch of letters inside, I did not have time to examine them but being interested in all manuscripts accompanying books I decided that I would buy it. The normal price was around 10/- or 15/- but someone else must have had a peek also as it ran up to 70/- before I got the nod from Laurie. Inspection of the letters revealed that they were letters referring to the last days of James Cowan by his wife, also a letter in pencil from the hospital in heart rending terms from a dying man, to Eric Ramsden, by James Cowan himself, and finally four and a half pages by Eric Ramsden describing the last moments of James Cowan. The book itself is autographed by James Cowan. What a windfall for a collector, sad though it is, for I have the greatest respect for both the writers concerned and, of course, Mrs. Cowan was the daughter of Henry M. Stowell (Hare Hongi), a famous character and himself the author of “Maori-English Tutor and Vade Mecum”, itself a collector’s piece. Truly a great 70/- worth, to have connected in one book three of the greatest authorities on Maori lore.

Katherine Mansfield has always interested me as one of the great New Zealanders who, with Francis Hodgkins, the artist, possibly made the greatest impact on the international scene of any New Zealanders. I was therefore delighted to secure at a booksellers, a fine copy of “The Garden Party”. This was a special and limited edition with coloured lithographs by Marie Laurencin. Published by the Verona Press, London, but printed in Italy, it is a fine

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piece of work and this particular copy contains the notice. “This book, designed by Hans Mardersteig, was printed in the Autumn of 1939 at the Officina Bodoni, Verona, in Centaur type. The paper was made by Enrico Magnani, Pescia. The stones from which the coloured lithographs were printed have been ground. The edition consists of twelve hundred numbered copies of which Nos. 1-30 were signed by the artist. Press Copy Not for Sale.” Unfortunately this was not a signed copy being a Press Copy only. Of all my Mansfield books this is the one I value most. Recently had one of the lithographs by Marie Laurencin framed, making a very nice picture indeed. In Henry Sotheran’s latest catalogue this edition is now priced at £18/18/- which is about six times what I paid for mine.

A small book, originally published in 1893 at a cost of 1/6, caught my eye when scanning a Bethune catalogue one day, its name,“Overland from Auckland to Wellington in 1853” by Lieut. F. W. Mackenzie. I was able to attend this sale and on inspection discovered the book contained as enclosures a couple of deep black edged letters from Mrs. C. L. Mackenzie to Mr. W. H. S. Roberts, himself a writer and collector, tipped in is a photograph of Lieut. Mackenzie. The letters are personal and most interesting, Mrs Mackenzie being somewhat concerned in case the price of 1/6 would be too much, but as she was donating it all to some missionary cause she did not think that people would mind! ! ! I paid £12/10/- for the book! ! !

Browsing through a catalogue one day I spotted a book of sketches and inside the inscription “With Dr. Carmalt Jones Best Wishes”. The book contains 24 delightful pencil sketches of various New Zealand scenes, at 17/6 I count this one of my real bargains. I had never heard of Carmalt Jones but as an artist he deserves to be better known.

I had to pay about £6 for “The War in the Waikato” by John Featon, 1879, on opening it up I found that it had been owned by the Hon. William Cowper Smith, M.L.C. who had fought in these wars and fought at the battle of “Mauku”. He also stood for parliament in 1881 for Waipawa

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and was elected, defeating the Hon. J. D. Ormond, the original of that name. The groomsman for my son at his wedding was Brian Smith, whose father was also William Cowper Smith and probably a son of the one time owner of this book.

My old friend Pat Lawlor offered me a couple of his books in the de-luxe, very limited and numbered edition, “Old Wellington Days” and “More Wellington Days”. Beautifully printed, produced and bound in full leather, only twelve of one and eleven of the other were published in this form and my numbers were seven in each case, both books are autographed by Pat. Many thanks, Pat, these will be really valuable some day.

Occasionally one finds something to laugh about, not too often in these days of inflation and political jiggery-pokery, but this time the boot is on the other foot. During the shindig pertaining to the recent sugar racket a book was put up for sale at Bethune’s, its title, being somewhat apt at the time, rather intrigued me, “South Pacific Enterprise. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company  Limited”. Anything regarding sugar was topical at the time and the price, 17/6 for quite a large book in first class condition, surely was cheap enough, it was knocked down to me. After getting it home and turning over the leaves I noted the signature in the book and rubbed my eyes, what was this  doing in the sale? “K. J. HOLYOAKE”, my hat; I had many books on political leaders but so far none that they had owned.

In the back of the book were what were obviously debating points and notes. One note read, “In 1856 a dividend of 50% was declared.” Oh, boy, better give this to Mr. Nordmeyer. Then under a sub-heading, Algie, some unintelligible writing but could read “bit more confidence in . . . Then some interesting information regarding production, “24 tons of canes would produce 3.3 tons of raw sugar”. Then references to sugar prices in Australia: Fine Loaves 5d lb., Lump 4½d, Molasses £13 per ton. Then we have some references to “Mabel,” unintelligible, but finishes with “Mr. Speaker told me not to (think it is ‘prevaricate’

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but not quite sure) and I resented it very much.” “Mason gets angry, have never seen him more indignant and angry.” “Objects to inferences and unpleasantness.” Politicians must be human after all.

Writers too are human, I have here Tregear’s “The Aryan Maori” inscribed “to my dear Mother from her affectionate Son, Edw. Tregear”, in so cold and hard a world it is nice to see that affection is still part of our daily lives.


A most unusual publication by the Bodley Head was a folder entitled “I Object” by A. P. Herbert. This is possibly the only copy in New Zealand and is a printed booklet containing the “Letter to the electors of East Harrow, with some proposals for the reform of the machinery of Government,” from A. P. (Sir Alan) Herbert, Independent Member for Oxford University, 1935-50; Doctor of Civil Law (Oxford); Doctor of Laws (Queens University, Kingston, Ontario); a Thames Conservator; member of the “Punch” Round Table since 1924. It is autographed “Many Thanks, from A. P. HERBERT.” ! ! ! The edition is limited to 250 numbered copies, specially bound, copies signed by the Author, this copy is number 19. Surely another way of financing an election campaign, but I give him credit for his originality, and there’s some good meat inside! ! !

Some time ago a friend of mine, knowing of my interest

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in motoring, rang me and told me of an interesting publication being brought out in Britain, it was “The Book of the Silver Ghost” by Kenneth Ullyett. It was the history of a Rolls Royce early car, only 200 copies were to be published and it was to be autographed by Ullyett. It was a beautiful production with many hitherto unpublished photographs and also had a complete facsimile of the original Silver Ghost Instruction Book, the price, £5/5/-. I was most interested and duly paid over my £5/5/-, my friend placed the order and I waited, for a very long time, but no book. I rang my friend and asked him “what about it?” “It hadn’t arrived, he’d write.” It duly did arrive, the firm said they had posted the first one but as we had not received it they felt they had better replace it. The replacement duly did arrive and as said is a fine production and must become very rare as 200 spread around the world won’t go very far or last too long. Just recently my friend said, “Oh, you know that book?” “Yes,” I replied. “Well, I had it all the time, I must have mislaid it.” And he worked in a bank, no wonder our financial system falls down somewhat! ! ! I’m hoping that he returned it to the people who were kind enough to replace it.

Reading the book “Christie’s Since the War” I saw a reference to a book “Birds of America” by J. J. Audobon [Audubon], it had brought £6000 at one of their sales! ! ! I had many books on New Zealand Birds but had never heard of Audobon’s book, the original of which was published in 1837 and contained 435 coloured plates of American Birds, and very beautiful they were too. I forgot about this book until I picked up a sales catalogue from George Walker Ltd., of Auckland, in this was an item “Birds of America” by J. J. Audobon. This revived my memory somewhat and I got in touch with the firm, to my disgust this was a 1947 reprint, but the plates were all there, the whole 435 of them and taken from the original plates. I decided I must buy this but at what price? What should I bid? I took an awful risk and nearly gave Walkers heart failure when I told them to go to £100, but I wanted the book. I could not attend

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so waited patiently until the ’phone rang at lunch time, it was Walker’s, they had bought the book for me, price £25, fair enough. Next evening at 5 p.m. the ’drome [phone] rang, they had a book for me from Auckland, that is real service. The book is in fine condition, and the plates as new, and very beautiful indeed. By a strange coincidence, I was watching television one evening when an  unscheduled item was announced, Sotheby’s in London were going to hold a sale simultaneously with Parke Bernet in New York via Tel Star. The experiment was a huge success and they actually auctioned several of the Audobon prints from his original edition and sold them at prices ranging from £115 to £210 each!! !

My final book in this portion of this tale is the “Book of Job”. This production was published by F. Lewis, Publishers Ltd., of Leigh-on-Sea, England. The blurb read, “The Book of Job with 34 original, signed proof etchings by Sir Frank Brangwyn, R.A., hand set throughout in Perpetua 14 point and printed in two colours on English hand made paper. Limited to 100 copies only, the copper plates then defaced. Bound Vellum by Sangorski & Sutcliffe and contained in a slip case.” My interest was aroused because I already owned about a dozen watercolours and drawings from Sir Frank’s collection but had no work of his own. I ordered the book with some trepidation, how was I going to get the money to them? How would it get past Customs? I need not have worried, apparently it is O.K. to send money for books, within reason I suppose, and Customs are no trouble, there being no duty on books. The production is superb, the binding in ivory vellum, the paper is beautiful, the etchings? well, Brangwyn is world famous for his etchings, and his hand has lost none of its cunning.

Very recently I noticed in an English publication an advertisement for a publication called “Adam 300”, I was more than a little intrigued to find that it contained Forty Six Letters by Katherine Mansfield. In this publication were also a number of reproductions of drawings by Jean Cocteau, Modigliani and Chagall, to say nothing of articles by Edith

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Sitwell, Picasso, Wolf Mankowitz, Zadkine, H. G. Wells, Maxim Gorky, Chekov and James Joyce, quite a mouthful.

Early in the year, 1967, a Taradale bookseller, Mr. Hutton, advertised a new edition of the “Original Bird Paintings of John James Audobon”, this is the first time that the actual paintings have been photographed and re produced and the price was £30. Mr. Hutton stated in his advertisement that the original folio could cost up to £30,000 today. This I queried as the highest price I had seen quoted was £7000 for a fine copy sold at Christie’s. However, on referring the matter to Bernard Quaritch, of London, they told me that they had recently sold two copies of this publication, the more expensive of the two for £23,000, I had therefore to gracefully apologise to Mr. Hutton. Following on my acquisition of this latest edition I wrote to the Pierpont Morgan Library of New York where the originals are housed and who are holding an exhibition of the paintings this year, 1967, and they very kindly sent me, gratis, a wonderful catalogue, fully illustrated, of the paintings that were being shown, this friendly gesture was very much appreciated.

Further publications that I have recently acquired include a fine, and admittedly expensive first edition of a rare work by John Ruskin, “The Laws of Fesole”, 1879. Bound in inlaid blue Morocco and gilt, it is a fine example of Victorian craftsmanship. Another interesting acquisition was “The Book of Thel” by Wm. Blake, only 400 copies published, 20 at 70 guineas and the rest at 16 guineas, numbered. Published by the William Blake Trust this is a fine production with handcoloured reproductions of the original drawings.

One of my latest, and luckiest, acquisitions, was a complete set of eight volumes of “The Farington Diary” by Joseph Farington, R.A. I already had a painting by this famous artist and had made many enquiries as to whether the “Diary” was available. I had usually received the “horse laugh” as it has long been out of publication. However, a collector must never falter, never give up. On making further

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enquiry, this time from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., of London, a very old firm, I found that they actually had on hand a full set in fine condition, price £15. This possibly was my greatest thrill for many a long day as this “Diary” is chock full of history of the years 1793 to 1821 and as Farington hobnobbed with everyone who counted from the Royal Family down, including all the great actors and actresses, all the top politicians, navy and army personalities, all the great artists and even talked with Wellington and Napoleon. For any student of that period it is the most exciting publication that could be imagined, recording actual day to day happenings of the period.

As this goes to print I have secured a real gem, the catalogue by Geoffrey Keynes of “William Blake’s Illustration to the Bible”, No. 172 of an edition limited to 500 copies, only 230 of which were available in Britain, the rest going to the U.S.A. Elephant Folia, quarter Morocco boards, marbled, it is a superb production, and whilst I felt the price was high, a little bird has recently whispered to me that it is worth at least four times as much as I paid for it in England, interesting.

This concludes my account of my modest book collection. Many others have more, and probably better, but they seem to have neither time nor inclination to tell us about them, so having both I set this record down for the interest of those chaps who, like myself, had to fossick around and collect the “Hard Way”.

TAILPIECE. Extraordinary things do happen, even in this hard commercialised world of today, miracles still do occur. Not so very long ago a little old lady wandered into Bethune’s and asked if they were interested in selling or buying some books that she had, her husband had recently passed away and no one was interested in the books. Mr. Fair told her that his next catalogue was full and he could not handle any more at the moment. “I have a list here”, said the lady, handing Andy a piece of paper, “I think we can squeeze these in,” he said. On the list were about a

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dozen or so of the most desirable collector’s items in the New Zealand book world, worth about £1000 or so. You never know! ! !


For the amateur collector, Porcelain offers the greater challenge. In no sphere of collecting does the element of risk obtain so much. The term “Caveat emptor”, “let the buyer beware”, achieves its full meaning when pursuing your hobby of collecting genuine 18th Century Porcelain or earlier. In no other field is so much deception, fraud, and of course, simple ignorance, prevalent. Right down through the ages manufacturers have copied the marks of their competitors and it has been said that the surest way to disaster is to rely on “marks”. For myself, as a complete ignoramus, I was the easiest of marks for the unscrupulous salesman, for even now I am quite unable to definitely identify, even after purchasing all the best text books, and many years of study, I only know enough to get into trouble. I have never achieved the knack of being able to discern the genuine from the copy, by touch, and I know of only one dealer in New Zealand with this attribute, John McDonald, I think, has that ability to recognise the genuine article and he has been of very great help to me in building up my collection. I well remember at lady antique dealer at the first Wellington Antique Fair that I attended, telling me that I, like all the others, would at first buy all and sundry and then toss the lot out and start all over again, she little knew how right

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she was. I don’t think that dealers deliberately mislead collectors in every case, in many cases they themselves do not know sufficient to be quite sure, and many admit this quite openly.

Frequently porcelain is wrongly described in sales advertising. To the public, Dresden is Dresden, but, to the collector there is only one Dresden, “Meissen” the original Dresden, but today there are dozens of Dresden porcelain factories. Samson & Co. of Paris, established in 1845, specialise in “Reproductions of Ancient Works emanating from the Museums and from Private Collections” and they do it in magnificent fashion. Unless one is proficient in discerning “hard paste” from “soft paste”, and to the ordinary man in the street that is so much double dutch, one is an easy victim of the unscrupulous and not so unscrupulous too, as they in their turn are in the same boat. Samson products will one day be valuable, as in many cases they outdo the original. I can suggest no remedy save to urge great caution and perhaps insist on a guarantee, and there are dealers who will give this too, on request.

Quite recently, I, despite all my book knowledge, almost made a “blue”. There was advertised in the press a “Meissen” Coffee Service, said to have been owned by the Kaiser, I duly inspected this and it really was a most beautiful service. The asking price £150, and if Meissen, worth it. I offered £130, fortunately for me, this was refused and I returned home to ponder and study the question. To my horror, I found out that I had almost bought a pup, marked with the K.P.M. mark of old Meissen of the period 1723-24, I had overlooked the fact of this service having, in addition, the “sceptre” and “double eagle” which, of course, is the modern mark of the Berlin factory, now the Royal Porcelain Factory, with no value at all from the collector’s point of view. Again “caveat emptor”, I cannot stress this too much. Read all you can, study pastes, periods, etc., and you will always come up, as I do, with the feeling that even the experts are never quite sure. But as one expert has said, “one should not

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worry unduly as one is more likely to buy a genuine article than a fake,”but the doubt is always there, you are never quite sure.

My first venture into porcelain was about twenty years ago, roughly 1945. I was in my working clothes coming home in the evening when I happened to glance into an antique shop. I saw a lovely figure of a naked woman sitting on a rock and the whole resting in a very well moulded bowl, and the whole in Black Basalte. I entered the shop and the attendant showed me various articles one by one out of the window, including the figure I had my eye on. Asking the price, £7/10/-, I decided that I would take it and as she proceeded to put it back, I said so. The lady demurred, saying it was her centre piece and she did not want to sell it. As she had quoted it to me I insisted and, of course, I got it. She looked me up and down, dirty and untidy in heavy boots, etc., and said, “You have very good taste, what are you going to do with it?” This snobbish attitude rather riled me and I answered pretty sharply, “Oh, give it to my wife.” My sales lady retorted rather tartly, “She’s a very lucky woman!” I don’t know whether my wife agrees.

The piece was, of course, Black Wedgwood and on referring the marks upon it to the factory I got the following reply: “The subject ‘Aphrodite’ is actually an adaptation of the well known figure of ‘Cleopatra’ that we have reproduced in this material. It was modelled by the late J. A. Austin in 1910. We note from the enclosed rubbing that there is an impressed ‘C’ at base; this is the private mark of Robert Cope, who for a number of years was an outstanding craftsman employed by this firm. This particular piece was made in 1920.” It is amazing that so large a firm as Wedgwood could keep tally of such a piece for forty years. I have since been advised that the piece is worth at least three times what I paid for it, one of the few bargains that I have made.

I greatly admire all Wedgwood, the original Josiah Wedgwood was the man who made china available to the

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ordinary man in the street, and the whole Wedgwood family have played a very great part in the porcelain industry. I have only two other pieces of Wedgwood of note, both of which are black with white figures of “The Dancing Years”. These beautiful figures, designed by John Flaxman in 1775, were originally nude, someone got the idea of clothing them in flowing robes, and they are the most graceful figures adorning pottery today. One piece is a large bowl, black with white interior, the other a lovely replica of the vase presented to their Majesties King George Vth and Queen Mary during a visit to the factory at Etruria, on April 13th, 1913, a truly lovely piece of craftsmanship.

It was not until our European trip that the bug really began to bite. I was intrigued by the French clocks that I saw in many London antique shops, sometimes alone and sometimes with a pair of vases. These sets were embellished with Sevres porcelain and against the gilt of the clock they looked very pretty indeed. The price usually ranged from £40 for a clock to around £70 or £80 for a set with vases. To me at that stage this was a pretty high price so that when I saw a rather nice clock in a shop at Earls Court I priced same, and when the girl told me £16 I was rather sceptical and asked her to confirm this price, this she did and I agreed to buy it. The proprietor asked me to leave it with him as he would like to have the mechanism checked before I took it away, I did so, paying a deposit of £5. Later that day when clearing out my pockets at the hotel, not far from the shop where I had bought the clock, I noticed he had charged me £18 for the clock. I went back smartly to the shop and challenged him as to the price. Nothing would persuade him, the price was £18, I had made a mistake. As I had been most particular to have the price confirmed I was having none of this sort of business and demanded that he bring the girl down into the shop. She tried to bluff her way out but eventually conceded that I might be right. The dealer capitulated and I paid the balance and  took the clock away there and then, my first experience dealing in London.

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What I did not know was that these clocks are manufactured in quantity in London for sale to the “sucker” and the so called Sevres is just junk. Genuine Sevres is marked on every piece and after returning to New Zealand I disposed of my clock and bought a set with genuine Sevres inserts. Incidentally, I got £4 more for the clock than I paid for it. The only other deal I made on the trip was for a pair of very lovely vases, remember, I knew less than nothing about porcelain at the time. The old dealer told me they were Worcester and the price £10 the pair. Some days later I re-visited the shop and a lady was in charge, when I asked to see the Worcester vases again. “Worcester be damned, they’re Dresden,” price £8/10/-. Two opinions, two prices at the same shop, anyway I bought them and brought them home to New Zealand. Later I ascertained that they were indeed Dresden, but not Meissen, in fact they were made at a factory owned by a Madam Wolfsohn who had been compelled by law to desist from marking her products so as to imitate Meissen. I later sold these, also at a profit, they were lovely but not worth collecting by a serious collector.

I was learning and at not too great a cost as yet, the worst was to come. After returning I attended an antique sale, my first, and bid for a so called Dr. Wall teapot, Worcester, and very nice. After a short battle I bid £16 for it, the auctioneer again looking at my working clothes said. “That is for the teapot, you know,” taking pity I suppose on a poor old man! ! It was knocked down to me and an old lady came across and said, “You’ve got the gem of the sale,” and I think I had. I also bought a couple of very nice Derby figurines at the same sale for £18 the pair. The teapot turned out to be a very nice specimen of 2nd period Worcester, not Dr. Wall period, and it was greatly admired whilst I retained it and eventually I was able to add two cups and saucers of identical pattern some time later. The figurines turned out to be very good copies only and I sold them later at about the price I paid for them.

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It was now becoming apparent that porcelain held more than a passing interest for me and with my wife we began to attend antique fairs and sales. Palmerston North was my first fair and it was here that I made the acquaintance of Dixon & Co., Antique Dealers. John McDonald and Leighton Dixon who comprised the company, were young men working with the Broadcasting Corporation and running the antique business as a side line. John McDonald (who incidentally went to school with my son in Marton where John’s father was the Town Clerk), sold me a Derby Plate which was my first introduction to the confusion that exists over the correct identification of porcelain. Unmarked, this plate had been imported as Worcester but John McDonald was emphatic that it was Derby. There have been many and varied opinion on this but John remained adamant, so Derby it was. This same sale left me with one lasting regret, two in fact. One dealer had on show a set of dwarf  musicians, five in number, purported to be Capo Di Monte, price £75. This at that time seemed a lot of money so I passed them by. Even now I doubt very much that they were genuine, although they did go back to England, as Capo Di Monte porcelain figures are rarely, if ever, seen outside a museum. I still live in hope of some day coming across similar figures somewhere. The other regret referred to an almost life size figure of a Partridge, every feather carefully delineated, it was a fine piece of craftsmanship. The dealer in question was rather short and said they THOUGHT it was Meissen. Rather annoyed at his brusqueness I left his stand without further examination, I regret it now.

At the Wellington Antique Fair, held in Wakefield House, itself quite an antique, I bought two figures from a Mrs. Moore, a well known dealer of those days. One figure was a delightful small figure of a “Drunk” with his broken pipe lying on the ground. Plainly marked “Bloor Derby” this figure has been passed as genuine and is universally admired and is one of the few early purchases remaining in my collection. The other figure was supposed to be Meissen as it was marked with a form of “Crossed Swords”. On

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examination after I returned home I was convinced that it was Samson and I reported this to Mrs. Moore who instantly refunded my money and requested the return of the figure, I always admired Mrs. Moore for her integrity.

At a later Wellington Fair I bought a fine Derby Plate from Dixon & Co. and at the same Fair got my eye on a lovely figure of an 18th Century Gentleman, the price to my mind was too high so I left it. The memory of this lovely little figure remained to haunt me and I eventually did secure it under circumstances that will be told later.

A large antique sale was advertised to be held at the Riddiford Homestead in Lower Hutt and we decided to have a look at the offering. However, there was nothing to attract me but I well remember a courageous action by a well known dealer, David Cooke of Auckland. A pair of figures were being put up and the auctioneer told the large crowd that they were in “mint” condition. I knew this was not so, and apparently so did Cooke, for he at once shouted out, “They are not in ‘mint’ condition.” That took some courage and I have always admired him for this, the buyer needs friends like this sometimes.

At the sale I met another dealer who invited me to his home to see some of his stuff and have supper with him that evening. I was very inexperienced at that time and naturally accepted the kindly offer, not altogether from an altruistic purpose because I knew that he still had that figure of a “Gentleman” that I coveted. Duly at 7.30 I turned up and was shown a lot of stuff that did not interest me, so I plucked up courage to ask if he still had the little figure. “Sure he had,” and produced it from a drawer, price £16, about £4 less than I had been asked at the fair, I naturally bought it. Then my attention was drawn to a rather lovely Rockingham Vase, about 18″ high. My host examined it carefully with a magnifying glass and after some dickering I eventually bought this also, I was pleased with my purchases, the figure appeared to be a 19th century Frankenthal, a minor German factory, figure and rather fine. The vase, however, on examination proved to have a wide crack in the body giving the

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vase a somewhat lopsided appearance, not readily discernable unless closely examined. Rather disappointed that the dealer had not pointed this out to me I wrote a rather sharp letter of complaint which produced another rather sharp reply, asking me “if I thought he KNEW it was cracked” and that I could return ALL of the purchases if not satisfied. This put me in a spot, I wanted the figure, what was I to do? Finally I replied that “I felt it would have been a greater insult to his capacity as a dealer to suggest that he HAD NOT noticed a crack that I could see ten feet away, than to suggest that he did know of it,” and I decided to cut my losses and retain both articles. I knew, however, where not to deal in future. I was learning the hard way.

A local firm now advertised a huge antique sale to be held in Hastings in conjunction with a very large Wellington firm. In the list to be sold was a Meissen, Crossed Swords, dish, the description of the dish intrigued me and I determined to “duck” work for an hour or two and try and buy the Dish. A rich dark blue with a raised gold pattern of Convolvulous, a very nice piece of Meissen. I had as yet no idea of public demand for these things and went along with a fiver in my pocket. My son, Gordon, arrived just prior to the dish being offered, he was passing the hall on his way to lunch. As soon as the plate came up there was a flood of bids and not until the dish reached £28 did I get a bid in, it eventually was knocked down to me for £30. “Gee,” said Gordon Walker, the local associate auctioneer, to me as he passed me the dish, “I’d like to have a whole dinner set to sell at that price.” I think that he was right, it was only a 19th Century production and not worth that price, however I was still learning, I think Gordon was horrified! ! !

Shortly after this occurrence a friend mentioned that in a provincial town he had seen a beautiful piece of Meissen in the form of a coach, entitled “Josephine’s Coach”. It had been imported about the time of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and used as a centrepiece for displays by the importer, its price then was £420. With the coming of import restrictions he lost the whole of his license and

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so had no further use for the coach, it was eventually bought by a dealer in chinaware in this small town and he now wanted to sell it, it could be bought, so I was told, for about £150. I thought about it, £150 was a lot of money! ! ! A little later on, my son, who was the local harrier champion at the time, asked me if I would take him to Wellington as he was to take the baton from the Prime Minister, Mr. Nash then, at Parliament Steps and run the first leg of the Hawke’s Bay Centennial relay race from Wellington to Napier. I agreed to take him providing he gave me time to call at a certain town where I had business to transact, I was not too sure how the family would re-act to my spending so much money. I duly located the shop but no trace of the coach, not wishing to let them know that I knew of the coach I just wandered into the shop on the pretext of buying a present, a good present! ! ! Whilst being shown around I spotted the coach under the counter, of all places, with a dirty piece of cardboard on it stating its one time price of £420, today’s price £120! ! ! I had taken the precaution of getting two nice red £50 notes before leaving home and this was to be my limit. I made no headway with the lady attendant who brought the proprietor, he too was adamant, £120. Finally I got anxious, I had to be in Wellington by ten to six and time was moving along and I still had to join the family for tea, so I walked towards the door, pulled the two notes out of my pocket and suggested that he’d better take that. The sight of the notes must have worked the oracle for he capitulated and the coach was mine at £100. I asked him to have it packed and I would call back after tea, this I did and with the family still ignorant and curious, hotfooted it for Wellington. The sight of the shopkeeper’s wife’s tears and her pathetic, “we’re going to miss it” nearly upset my applecart, I felt horribly guilty as I suppose many collectors have.

The harrier race over, we made for home and arrived in the early hours of the morning to inspect the coach. It was a beautiful piece of work. About two feet long and nine

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inches high at its highest, drawn by four prancing horses with postillion at the head, coachman and footman on the box, the young Napoleon and Josephine inside and another foot man on the rear step of the coach, the craftsmanship was superb. Here again though, its designation was at fault. After months of correspondence with numerous Dresden factories I established that it was made by the Sitzendorfer Porzellan-Manufaktur K.G. in Sitzendorf, Germany. The supposedly “Crossed Swords” were indeed two crossed sticks with a capital S superimposed, another trap for the unwary.

A sea trip the following year brought us to Sydney and a tour of the antique shops was a must. The only shop with anything of interest was Max Patmoy’s who apparently operated a pawnbroker’s business in conjunction. After a long search and deliberation I eventually bought a Meissen Cup and Saucer with raised gilt pattern, a genuine old piece, £7/10/- New Zealand, and just as we were leaving, the assistant produced out of the window a lovely Meissen figure of a Baker Boy, she claimed it to be modelled by Kaendler but I swallowed that with a grain of salt. It happened to be an unredeemed pledge with £22 on the ticket. “You can have for half price,” she said. A quick calculation made this about £8 New Zealand, needless to say I grabbed it smartly, I have paid £25 for very much worse stuff than this since. I also saw a nice porcelain group priced at £60 which was out of my reach. I have often wanted to go back just to see what it was that they valued so highly, but fate decided otherwise.

Just prior to Easter, 1960, I was taken suddenly ill and bundled into hospital, pronto. After a few days I was allowed to return home after the authorities had taken a number of tests, etc. We were hauling for flounders on the beach at Westshore on a lovely Easter Saturday morning when the ’phone rang, it was the hospital. Would I return to hospital on the following Tuesday as an operation was adviseable? What an Easter Egg! ! ! Explanations elicited

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that whilst it was largely precautionary it was advisable and anyway I would be back at work in six weeks, just like that! ! ! That six weeks turned out to be five and a half months chained to a hospital bed, plus two more operations and constant care to this very day from the District Nurses, to whom I really believe I owe my life, they have been wonderful.

During my first incarceration I was in no condition to worry about porcelain, books or anything else, although I still maintained my interest and my wife often brought up reference books pertaining to porcelain, motor cars, etc. These interests did help to sustain one during that long wait in hospital. I had one frustrating experience whilst in hospital. Reading in the “Dominion” that an autograph album belonging to the late Bert Royle had been sent in to Bethune’s to be sold, and that Mr. Fair had discovered in it a crayon drawing of a Maori Woman by C. F. Goldie, one not previously known of, Mr. Fair cut this drawing out of the book and had it framed and it was to be offered at their forthcoming sale. I had then, no interest much in Goldie or any other paintings but the very rarety [rarity] of this sketch intrigued me. I wrote immediately to Bethune’s and Andy Fair’s opinion was that it would bring around £70-£100. I replied immediately that I would go to £120 for it and waited for the sale to take place in about ten days time. To make a long story short, the sketch sold for £75 and I was delighted it was mine. You have no idea how such a thing boosts one’s morale, especially to a collector. I waited for some days and heard nothing and doubts began to assail me, what had happened, this was not like Bethune’s! ! ! I accordingly wrote and got an immediate reply. “BETHUNE’S HAD ONLY THAT DAY, THREE WEEKS AFTER IT WAS MAILED, RECEIVED MY AIRMAIL LETTER.” Of course, I had missed out on the sketch and my morale suffered more than a little. The nurse who had mailed my letter stuck to her story, she had mailed it in the lobby almost as soon as I had given it to her. The postmaster assured me that they had only received the airmail letter

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on the day of the date stamp, the day before Bethune’s received it, so what could I do? Bemoan my fate, not that that would do much good.

However, in the spring, I was released from hospital into the good care of an excellent District Nurse and I made rapid progress and began to think of the future. Work was out, fortunately my son was very capable and the business went on as usual and so did my income, so I threw myself into my collecting of books and porcelain with renewed enthusiasm.

In my weakened condition I found my beloved Aston Martin car, almost new, and specially imported from Britain, was too tiring for me to drive so reluctantly I looked around for a replacement. It had to be good, as good as the Aston and what could approach that? ‘Twas then I thought of a Porsche, I had been interested in these cars since 1949 and my European trip had quickened that interest. A ’phone call to the agent elicited the fact that no new cars were available but he could sell me his own Porsche Carrera, this is the top model marketed by this firm. Having four overhead camshafts and everything to match, it had superb performance, a trial run showed me that it was everything I wanted, smart, fast, reliable and above all fairy [fairly] light to handle. The price was high as it had only done 13,000 miles and new price was £3600, a spot of dickering and the Carrera was mine.

A few weeks later three Chelsea figures were to be sold at a sale in Hawera. I was itching to go over and see these Gold Anchor figures, somewhat rare in New Zealand. I was scared to go in my state of health but the Nurse very strongly advised that I go. It was necessary to my morale that I should start driving again, so feeling very doubtful and having the assurance of the auctioneers that the figures were genuine, I decided to give it a go, taking it in short stages. The stages proved to be a stop at Feilding, and at Hawera before 1 p.m., a very fast trip, I was satisfied, I could still drive, and fast.

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[Photo captions]

(19th Century – Crossed Swords mark)

From the Waitley-Tolson Collection
Crossed Swords

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At the sale there was considerable interest in the figures and I noticed that small chips had been broken off the “bocage” and were lying in the glass case. I asked the man in charge if I could examine them and he kindly handed them to me. I noticed at once that the Gold Anchor marks looked remarkably fresh, not a bit like one would expect for 200 years of wear. Asked if he was sure they were genuine, he said that everyone thought they were genuine ‘EXCEPT ONE WELLINGTON CHAP, SITTING OVER THERE,,’ and he pointed to my friend John McDonald. I was delighted, I could now get a reliable opinion, and John’s was prompt and forthright. “Rubbish, not even good Samson.” That was enough for me, I packed up there and then and made for home, arriving at Westshore in very good time and quite fresh. Actually, another dealer bought the three figures for £125 the three, and I did hear he resold them for £175, how easy for the amateur to be caught and, of course, who does really know?

John McDonald mentioned as I was leaving that he had a very good Meissen figure coming up shortly and he would get in touch with me. This turned out to be an early Meissen, 1760 or so, of a shepherd and his dog. The owner had paid £120 for it in London from the Waitly Tolson Collection and would accept £100 for it. I snapped it up and consider this one of my best pieces. Christie’s opinion was that the Waitly Tolson Collection had a number of fine items, and that mine was the type modelled by J. J. Kaendler and worth round about £100, they later amended this to £175.

I had occasion to visit Wellington in December 1960 and Leighton Dixon kindly picked up my wife and myself at our hotel and took us up to their lovely flat for the evening. We spent a lovely evening and my attention was immediately focussed upon a glorious Derby figure of “Minerva” in superb condition, absolutely perfect. John McDonald told me he picked it up for a song in dirty, filthy condition, at a local auction mart. I fell for it at once and offered him £150 for it but nothing would induce him to part with it. That figure haunted my dreams for months, but to no

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purpose, actually it was rather too large for my liking being at least 18 inches tall. I did, however, buy that evening a pair of Chelsea Gold Anchor figurines, winged cherubs, these had already been home to England for verification and had been given a clearance and authenticated. Stanley Fisher wrote to me that they were “Correct in designation, very desirable and rare pair”. Also that evening I was shown a fine Red Anchor Chelsea plate, a lovely Gold Anchor Chelsea dish, and two Chelsea-Derby figures, one of “Mars” and the other “Spring”, all of these I eventually purchased over the following months. About this same time there was advertised at an auction sale a Meissen figure of “Pan the Satyre”. Coming from the Stannard Estate at Gisborne it seemed worth looking at, although I was not well enough to attend the auction. I arranged for my son to take me over to the mart on the Sunday afternoon and had just sufficient time to inspect the figure and assure myself that it was genuine when I found blood all over my clothes, I had opened up the would again! ! ! Gordon rushed me home quickly and into bed, no auction for me. However, Gordon snatched a few minutes from his work and bid for the figure. It failed to reach the reserve which was 20 guineas, the firm offered to accept £20 which we duly paid and I think it was one of my few bargains. It is an unusual type, mentioned by Lord Fisher, having faint blue “Crossed Swords” on unglazed base and could be around 1745 period. Owing to mark disappearing in firing they had to revert to the glazed base once more.

In April of 1961 I had once again to enter hospital, this time in Wellington, and I spent five weeks there in Ward 23, Doris, my wife, staying at Sayes Court, Wellington, during this period. Doris spent a week of this period with the Grenfell Family who were particularly good to her during a very trying period. Whilst window shopping she got her eye on a Borsata, modern Italian, porcelain figure. She was greatly attracted by this figure and when I was discharged wanted me to go around to the D.I.C. to look at it, the last thing I wanted to do, “Home James, and don’t spare

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the horses,” was my comment. Incidentally, we had not disposed of the Aston and on one trip to Wellington, Gordon ran foul of a Traffic Officer on the Motorway, it cost him £9 which I resolutely refused to pay as I had repeatedly warned him. It was lucky for him that he was only doing 67 m.p.h., it could so easily have been 107 m.p.h. ! ! His mother relented, however, and paid his fine for him, foolish woman.

Reaching home I realised that the following Sunday was my wife’s birthday, the troublesome matter of “what to give her” had solved itself, the Borsata Figure! ! ! I rang the D.I.C., yes, they still had it and would forward it on receipt of my cheque! ! ! Working this out quickly I realised that it could not arrive in time so I rang my friend Mr. Thomson, of the A.N.Z. Bank, and asked him to guarantee payment to the D.I.C. and would they airmail it at once? It arrived on Saturday morning and to my delight and surprise it was a lovely figure of a peasant woman sitting, peeling potatoes, rather drab in colouring due to the natural colouring of the Italian clay, it was superbly modelled, my wife had chosen well. Later, we visited both the agents for this porcelain in Wellington and can assure readers that never again will I buy porcelain over the ’phone, IT WAS THE ONLY FIGURE THAT I WOULD HAVE TAKEN HOME, how lucky can you get?

Most of my buying and collecting has been done under very trying and difficult conditions, my health being quite unpredictable. One could not plan even one day ahead, one lived from day to day. In December, 1961, I made my first venture into the realm of paintings, etc., and when a painting of “Ena Te Papatahi” was catalogued at Bethune’s. I decided to go down to the sale, I was getting restless again. These trips were often difficult, often made in great pain and always tired out on arrival, it placed a great strain on my wife. However, on this occasion we made it. The painting was a delightful one, and the estimate of its price was around £300. Prior to the sale of paintings a few antiques were offered. Amongst these a Jade “Lion of Fo” came up, reputedly of the Ming period, it was a splendid figure. Not

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really interested in jade I liked the challenge that the figure presented and determined to chase it along. I always accepted any valuation or authentication given by Bethune’s, they are that kind of firm. Eventually the piece of jade came up, £20 £30, £40, £50 in rapid bids and by now only a very well known Wellington dealer and myself were in the running. On it went £50, £60 £70, hell, I though, how much more? I felt maybe I would not stay the distance, and then I reasoned, whatever the dealer could pay I could pay £5 more as he had to sell it again. So off we went again, £75, £80, heck, how much more? And I bid £85 hoping that this would stop him. It did, the “Lion of Fo” was mine and there was much amusement amongst buyers, they love a scrap. Talking to a friend of mine the dealer said that the piece of jade was a good piece and could be worth anything up to £500. My friend, John McDonald, did not seem to agree and said he could have sold me plenty of jade. I told him I was not interested in jade as such, I wanted the “Lion”. My judgement was right as soon afterwards I was offered £120, then a well known dealer who himself collected jade, told me it was worth £200 or so. Christie’s said, “The jade lion looks most attractive and probably worth between £100 and £200 depending on the colour of the stone.” All this is most stimulating to me and has kept me from missing my usual business interests.

About this time a letter from Andy Fair intimated that at a very important sale coming up shortly, there would be a set of Meissen plates, 12 in all. These were of the famous Meissen Yellow and Gold, each plate with a hand painted scene depicting children at play in the centre, each plate having a different scene. Bethune’s expected these to bring from £75 to £120 for the set, I asked him to bid up to £120 for me and I duly secured them for £100. These were indeed a lovely set but being 19th century production never really appealed to me.

In April 1962, I was again feeling ill, and there was no doubt that more trouble was looming up. In addition to my original trouble I had now developed a terrific pain in the

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shoulder blades after driving a long distance and on this occasion I was travelling to Wellington to attend a sale of Sir George Currie’s effects. Dunbar Sloane had advertised it well and I was particularly attracted to a Meissen figure of a seated, winged woman, it sounded worth while to me. I was so ill on the way down that we had to stop the night at Levin, and made our way to the sale the following morning. There were three figures to be sold, and two were just the ordinary Thuringian figures commonly seen, but the centre one, the Meissen figure, was much larger than anticipated and I wondered if we could house it adequately. It stood fifteen inches high and stood screwed down on to a solid base three inches high and eight inches in diameter, a really fine figure, in perfect condition and with the Meissen “Crossed Swords” mark inside the base. It looked to me to be a model by Acier, a French craftsman who followed Kaendler at the Meissen factory. The figure showed the decided French influence that Acier brought with him, and later study led me to think that my assumption was correct. The period would be about 1764-1775. The two other figures were put up first and by this time I was too ill to stand and had subsided into a comfortable armchair, whilst my wife kept vigilant watch on the auctioneer. The Thuringian figures brought £35 the pair, a fantastic price, and made me wonder how high the Meissen would go. However, it was a poorly attended sale and it was knocked down to me for £50, quite a good buy. It was as much as I could do to carry it out to the car, we then quickly returned to the hotel where I rested for the rest of the time until we left next morning for home. This was typical of many difficult trips I made during those years.

A couple of month’s later I spotted a figure of a Monkey, evidently a copy of the famous Monkey Band made by Kaendler at Meissen. This was a most intriguing figure and very uncommon. Enquiry led me to finding out that it purported to be Rockingham, and indeed it looked very much like Rockingham, especially in its colouring. The price? £25. “Too much, £15,” I said. I finally got it for £20 and

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ascertained that it had been selected as Rockingham for the owner by David Goldblatt, a well known London collector, who had lectured in New Zealand. I have learned, the hard way, never to accept any statement at face value. I study every book I can get hold of and do not hesitate to send photographs, etc., overseas to experts for their opinions, and this recital will demonstrate how little one can rely on these so-called experts. I had never heard of Rockingham making a Monkey Band, although I had heard that Chelsea did so. I sent descriptions and photographs to Stanley Fisher, a well known authority on porcelain and also to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Museum were quite emphatic that Rockingham did NOT make a Monkey Band whilst Fisher was just as emphatic that they DID and quoted chapter and verse to prove it. So we now have Goldblatt and Fisher saying YES and the Victoria and Albert Museum saying NO. What chance have we poor amateurs of making decisions, that is, the right decisions? Again it boils down to this, “You must satisfy yourself and make your own decisions.”

Another interesting sale that I attended about this time was the usual “Race Week” sale held by Dunbar Sloane’s, always a big, and sometimes very interesting, sale. At this particular sale I was particularly keen to see a “Hadley” Worcester figure that was advertised. When we arrived I also found a fine plate, supposedly Worcester, in the Queen Charlotte pattern. The Worcester figure was a beautiful piece of work, Hadley evidently was proud of it as he had incised his name in large letters on the top of the base, a man of his repute does not act thus, lightly. I found myself sitting next to John McDonald, I sensed trouble as John was telling me what a fine Worcester plate it was! ! I took the bull by the horns and suggested that he leave me the two Worcester pieces and I would leave the rest to him, John kindly agreed although I knew he would have liked the plate.

The plate came up first and to my surprise was knocked down to my second bid for £6, cheap I thought. I had to wait quite a while for the figure to be put up and this always

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proves very tiring for me, however, eventually it was put up. I, as usual, let the earlier bidders exhaust themselves and in this case it came at about £22. I then bid £25, but there was at least one determined bidder who pushed it along £1 at a time. It now looked as though I would have to PAY for it, especially when after I bid £30 someone bid £31, however at my bid for £32 it was knocked down to me. I hardly expected to get the dirty look that I did, from a lady in the front row, I was really in the dog box, but all’s fair at an auction. Although only a 19th Century piece it is very lovely and quite a favourite, especially with the ladies. Recently a dealer told me that I would have had to pay a lot more for it if he had been there, he intended to go, especially to buy THAT figure but was prevented by business ties.

The Queen Charlotte Worcester plate proved a very interesting piece, in perfect condition, blue, white and gold, it made a nice cabinet piece. Research into the Queen Charlotte pattern established an interesting fact. Meissen, Worcester and Caughley all made this pattern but they all differed in one essential. In the case of Caughley the plate was divided into ten radiating panels, whilst Worcester used eight, and Meissen six, so that although this plate was marked with the Worcester crescent, often used by Caughley, it was definitely a Caughley plate. This was confirmed by a ring underneath the plate, and also by the deeper yellow of the paste when held up to the light. Such things as this go to make porcelain collecting the fascinating hobby that it is, because, you never know, you are never quite sure. Incidentally this pattern derived its title from the fact of Queen Charlotte having selected this design during a visit to the Worcester Factory by King George III and Queen Charlotte in 1788. The pattern itself is a derivation of the Strohblumen Muster design made at Meissen from about 1740.

Shortly after this it was found necessary for me to enter a private hospital for another major operation so for the nonce tripping away to sales, etc., was out. I spent about nine weeks in hospital on this occasion and for the

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first few weeks the last thing I was interested in was collecting of any sort, but, as I gradually regained my strength the monotony of just lying in bed began to pall and I commenced to take interest in things again. A visitor mentioned to me that David Cooke, a dealer in Auckland, had a figure of Minerva, this made me sit up and take notice and I wrote a short note to Cooke asking him if he had any 18th Century figures for sale. To my surprise he told me he had nothing to offer! ! I replied telling him that I had heard that he had a figure of Minerva and again to my utter surprise he replied quoting me Minerva and a figure of a Sailor, both 10 ½ inches high and Chelsea-Derby, “Minerva” in perfect condition, the “Sailor” had some small unnoticeable repairs. His prices were very reasonable and he offered to send them on approval by air so I sent him a cheque for “Minerva” leaving the “Sailor” meantime. To my delight the figure of “Minerva” was a beautiful figure and to my mind preferable to the larger figure that had so intrigued me at John McDonald’s. I later purchased the “Sailor” which is a most unusual figure and I believe a copy of an original Bow figure. The Editor of the “Connoisseur” wrote, “The Derby ‘Sailor’ is interesting.” Christie’s opinion from photographs was, “Chelsea-Derby figure of ‘Minerva’ looks a nice specimen, and the ‘Sailor’, a most attractive figure.” I mention these two figures mainly because they serve to show that a collector must persist and not always take “NO” for an answer.

On one occasion I saw a fine group of what was supposedly Chelsea, Gold Anchor period, it was marked with the Gold Anchor and to me looked genuine. A dealer friend of mine had it for sale. I asked if it was genuine. He said, “I hope so, I bought it as such!” The price, £100! ! ! I studied it for a while until the dealer said, “If it proves not to be genuine, I’ll take it back.” This was fair enough so I took it home. I tried everywhere to get an authentic opinion and after a week or two an expert called to visit me and said, “Is this the Gold Anchor piece you wrote me about? Sorry, it’s only a copy.” My heart sank, I liked the

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[Photo caption]

(Chelsea Derby, 1765)
With the mark of Isaac Farnsworth, Repairer

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figure and I certainly did not want to take it back but there is a world of difference in price between Chelsea and Samson! ! ! Eventually, rather shamefacedly, I took it back to the dealer and to his very great credit there was no quibble of any sort and my cheque was repaid at once.

As I have said it is essential that you learn where to buy, and learn to know whom you can trust implicitly, this is imperative to amateur collectors such as you and me. It is most difficult to be sure, really sure, and the following anecdote will illustrate this fact. A Wellington firm of auctioneers advertised for some weeks the fact that they would be selling an important piece of “Hochst” porcelain, supposedly modelled by Melchior. This attracted me considerably as this sort of stuff is very rare indeed, especially in New Zealand. I knew that I had to go into hospital in Wellington again very soon and set out to coincide my visit to Wellington with the date of the sale. I also sought out everything I could from my books with regard to the figures to be offered. They were a pair of Children playing on a grassy mound and were only 3 ½  inches high. Everything I read seemed to confirm their genuineness and I decided that I must have these. On the day that we travelled to Wellington I was a very sick man and went to bed on arrival in Wellington. At seven o’clock that evening we took a taxi to the saleroom to inspect the figures. I felt reasonably certain that they were genuine and after being told by the auctioneer that they would be sold around 2.30 or 3 p.m. next day, returned to our hotel. The next morning I spent resting, my wife rather anxious, as I was in no fit state to be attending antique sales, but an enthusiastic collector takes a whole lot of stopping! ! !

Around 1 p.m. I got my “itchy feet” feeling. I get this warning frequently, how or why, I’ll never know, but I must take note of it, I know this by experience. I called a taxi and we went to the saleroom. The first person I met was John McDonald. “Ha, you’ve come down for the Hochst, it’s only a copy you know!” I was in no mood for argument, I was too ill, but I said, “How the hell do you know?” John gave

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[Photo captions]

Jade – “LION OF FO”
(Ming 1368-1464)
The Traditional Guardian of the Buddhist Temple

(Hochst 1750-96)
Probably modelled by Melchior. B.A.D.A.

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me a perfectly logical reason for his opinion, but I was unconvinced. Just then my wife beckoned me she had found a seat, for how on earth I would have got on those days without her I just don’t know. Hardly had I sat down when the auctioneer announced, “In a few minutes we’ll be offering the star piece of the sale.” ! ! ! Turning to Doris I remarked, “He must have something that was not advertised.” It was only a few minutes after 1 p.m. and he had told me 2.30 or 3 p.m. It rather shook me when the assistant produced the lovely little figures that I had come down especially to buy. My “itchy feet” had saved me again! ! !

After detailing the various attributes of the piece, and telling us that it cost a lot of money in London, he started off the bidding at £50! ! ! Fifty pounds to start with, oh, boy! How much did he anticipate getting for it? It rattled smartly up to £90 and I began to get the jitters, I then spotted a dealer whom I knew would run me if he got the chance, and he did, £95, £100, hell, £105, £110, £115. I was really desperate now but still very stubborn, I’d buy it if it brought £200. Fortunately my bid of £120 secured it and at once my dealer opponent got up and walked out, I hope he was satisfied. The auctioneer now announced that this was the price the owner had paid for it in London, if true, I felt this was its best authentication for the London boys know their stuff.

But the most peculiar happening was to follow. I noticed a very big man bending almost double to examine the figures, I could see he knew something about porcelain by the way he was looking in the case. Quietly I asked him what he knew about the figures, the answer came prompt and short, “What the hell has it to do with you?” “Well,” I replied, “I’m the sucker who has bought them!” “I’m sorry, but they are only copies,” replied my friend, a German it transpired. “How the devil do you know that?” I shot at him. I was ill, tired and not quite sure that I had not made a “blue”. The answer rocked me completely, “Well, up to a fortnight ago I was the owner! I thought they were genuine and sent them home for an opinion and they came

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back ‘copies’, I sold them for forty quid.” This really put the cat amongst the pigeons. Forty quid and I had paid £120! However, he then said, “There is one chance in a hunderd [hundred] that they are genuine.” Evidently he had seen something that troubled him. “If you let me examine them I will tell you, but it’s only a slim chance.” I duly made them available to him and he peered at them, turned them upside down and almost inside out, then, turning round, still bent double, he peered up at me. “You are a very lucky man, these are not MINE, these are GENUINE.” ! ! ! Boy, my heart leapt, I had been sure they were genuine, but can you ever be sure? My friend continued, “I would never have believed that there could be two identical pieces of Hochst in Wellington at the same time. One genuine and one a copy, you are a VERY LUCKY MAN.” ! ! ! And this is what makes collecting such a stimulating hobby. Recently I submitted particulars and photographs of this piece to various people at Home and Mr. Stanley Fisher with the material available considered that my assumption was “correct”. The “Connoisseur” expressed the opinion that “The Hochst and Vienna figures are by far the most valuable and interesting (probably in the regions of hundreds each).” Christie’s opinion was, “A group of Hochst figures of Children, this is most attractive, should do about £150.” I feel therefore that I am reasonably correct with regard to this piece of porcelain.

With increasing knowledge I yearned for the chance to acquire some of the better stuff offering in London. I had money lying in the bank there but the import restrictions made it almost impossible to get stuff into the country. Several times I had very rare figures offered to me from reputable dealers in London but as usual Customs always said “No”, that must be the limit of their vocabulary! ! ! Eventually I received a colour slide of a superb Hochst figure of “St. Katherine of Genoa”. This beautiful piece, coloured all white with just fine gold linings, dated 1750, with the painter’s mark J.Z. indicating a very famous decorator of the period, Johannes Zeschinger, B.A.D.A.,

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[Photo captions]

(Hochst 1750-96)
J. Z. (Johannes Zeschinger) B.A.D.A.
Published in “Das Hochster Porzellan”
Exhibited Mainz Exhibition 1925

Wedgewood – Black Basalte

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sealed. Incidentally this figure appears in the publication “Das Hochster Porzellan” by Roder, and was actually exhibited at the Mainz Exhibition in 1925. The price, £170 landed in New Zealand, was reasonable and I determined to make a bid to get it. I cabled asking for an option for seven days which was granted. I wrote to the Reserve Bank who agreed to my using my overseas funds for this purpose and applied to Customs who, of course, said “No”. Oh, boy! ! ! I immediately asked the Minister concerned. “Who IS running the country? The Reserve Bank or some boy in the Customs Office?” Mr. Shelton at once conceded my point and gave me permission to import the figure and it arrived by air, quickly and safely, and I still think it my best piece.

Still having about £200 lying in London, I read of a fine and rare piece of early Vienna offering. I cabled for particulars and it turned out to be a figure of a Lady, modelled by a very famous figure in the porcelain world of that period, 1750, J. J. Niedermeyer. Absolutely guaranteed and the price, £215 air freighted and insured to New Zealand. As I had only £200 left I offered that figure subject to my getting permission to import. Fortunately, my good friend the Minister was sympathetic and again gave me his permission, also the number of the import license. I cabled for the figure as the Minister assured me the license would follow in a day or two, actually the figure was safely in my cabinet THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE LICENSE ARRIVED! How could a business firm exist under such pathetic conditions?

I had by now got somewhat cluttered up with all sorts of porcelain and decided to concentrate on figures only, I therefore made up a car load and took it across to an advertised antique sale in Wanganui. Actually the sale was a bit of a flop, but fortunately, I came out of it very well indeed, selling almost £300 of my less desirable domestic ware. A little later a Cambridge dealer came to see me and commented on the quality of my “Lion of Fo” and had me set out all my Worcester porcelain that was for sale, actually it was a very fine lot. After setting it all out on the table he

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[Photo caption]

(Vienna 1750)
Modelled by J. J. Niedermeyer

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said, “How much?” I told him. He offered £10 less, I halved the difference, and my lovely Worcester was sold. This left me with only Red and Gold Anchor Chelsea dishes, these eventually all went to Dixon and Co. Ltd., leaving me with figures only.

Whilst recovering from my third operation, and having changed my place of residence, I was in bed when the Airport rang to say they had a package for me. I asked Gordon to pick it up for me and he went on my wife’s scooter. His language was pretty terrific when he returned, the package was so large and heavy it nearly sank the little bike. I was too ill to look at it so pushed it under the bed and left it there. Feeling better a day or so later I asked my daughter-in-law to open it, I was scared to ask my wife as I was buying too much, and too often, for her peace of mind. Shirley took off the wrappings and lifted the lid of the blue plush box it was in and squealed, “It’s lovely!” and clamped down the lid again. Still not interested enough to look myself I left it a few days longer and then one morning asked my friend, the District Nurse, to open it for me. The same squealing, and the same remark, “It’s lovely.” This induced me to crawl out of bed and investigate for myself, I found, snugly esconced in a silk lined box, a lovely marble steele of the Buddhist “Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin”. It was a truly superb piece of carving of the Ming period around about 1400 A.D. Fully substantiated, it was a remarkable work, and enquiry elicitated that it came from what is called “The Land of a Thousand Caves” in China, and these figures are carved in the caves, and never see the light of day until some collector, usually American, breaks off the head and steals it. I am told on good authority that the Chinese have a record of all such peculations. The carving had been sent on approval by my friends, the Dixon lads, and I finally decided to buy it, after which they told me that had I not done so, it would have gone to the Dominion Museum.

In September 1964, Bethune & Co. advertised a sale of porcelain, artifacts and a fine collection of paintings, mainly etchings and watercolours, from the collection of

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[Photo caption]

Marble Steele – “KUAN YIN’
Buddhist Goddess of Mercy
(Ming period 1368-1628)

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Mr. F. M. Hanan of Dunedin. Amongst this lot were three porcelain figures, a Bow figure of “Flora”, a Chelsea Gold figure of “Mars” and a Derby figure of “Neptune”, all first class, vouched for, and in perfect condition. Looking at the catalogue I realised that such figures do not often reach the market in New Zealand, and the collection of paintings, etc., was something we might never see again, this sale I must attend.

Shortly after the catalogue was issued we had a visit from my friend John McDonald and he acquiesced with my opinion that I must not miss this sale, but he did suggest that it was stupid to bid against each other, would I sit with him so as to avoid clashing? The day of the sale arrived and I was feeling better than usual as I sat down next to McDonald.

Eventually we got to the porcelain in the catalogue. I had taken the precaution to write to England to the firm who finally consigned the figures to Mr. Hanan, the figures had actually been selected for him by the Curator of the Porcelain at the British Museum so that there was no doubt as to their authenticity. The English firm put a value on the Bow figure of “Flora” of £70, the Chelsea figure £50-£60 and the Derby figure at £40. McDonald asked me which I wanted. I said, “the lot.” He asked me to leave him the Derby figure, to which I agreed. The Bow figure was knocked down to me at £50 which pleased me mightily. The Chelsea, for which I bid £50, was withdrawn by Laurie Pollock owing to not reaching the reserve. Asked what the reserve was, he replied, “Fifty guineas.” “O.K., I’ll take it,” I replied, and got my two figures at very reasonable prices and I was highly delighted. A surprise was to follow, the Derby figure rose steadily in the bidding, £40, £50, £60 and finally was knocked down to my friend at £70. This had us both puzzled, why the higher price?

Deciding to go across the road for a cup of coffee before the pictures came up for sale, I noticed my friend the dealer who sometimes “trotted” me, and over the cup of

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coffee I came upon the answer. Hearing my name called when the first two figures were knocked down he assumed that I too was bidding for the third, and decided to “trot” me, pulling out at £65 in case he got left with the figure. So poor old John got the full treatment, he may not sit with me again, it could be expensive. Still, he got a lovely figure and I don’t think he will lose by it.

Referring to the Derby figure purchased by John McDonald at the Hanan sale, I recently received a letter from Leighton Dixon of Dixon Antiques offering me this figure, naturally I accepted so I now have the three figures, the Bow “Minerva” [‘FLORA’], the Chelsea “Mars” and now the Derby “Neptune”. A fine trio, all specially selected for Mr. Hanan by the Keeper of Ceramics at the British Museum.

Another couple of items and this chapter will have to close. Cordy & Co. of Auckland announced in their catalogue that they would sell a Rockingham Plate, fully documented, as the last remaining plate of a dinner set owned by the first Governor of New Zealand, Captain Hobson. This plate, in fine condition, although repaired, had the family coat of arms of Captain Hobson in the centre. I sent a bid up of £25 and on the morning of the sale my “itchy feet” sent up their warning once more, would £25 be enough to secure the plate? I rang Cordy’s and spoke to Peter Webb who assured me that it would be ample, a tenner should secure it. I was not so sure so told him to “Buy it ”. This he would not do, being contrary to the rules, I must put a figure on it. I did, £50, and he almost laughed at me. “A tenner would buy it.” Would it? Later in the day a rather chastened Peter rang me to say I had secured it at £40! ! ! It happened that another buyer had already outbid the Government Archives for a copy of the “Treaty of Waitangi”, paying £260 for it and he had also chased me along for the plate. Just as well I have “itchy feet”.

Possibly the most exciting addition to my collection came about in a most unusual way. In the “Sunday Times”

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[Photo caption]

Last plate of a Rockingham Dinner Service belonging to Governor Hobson, with his Coat of Arms in centre.

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one Sunday there appeared headlines, “Has real Tang of antiquity”, “This 1000 year old horse, etc.”, this caught my imagination. I had long wanted to see a T’Ang Horse and here was one for sale, there appeared a poor picture which gave no indication of what the horse was like. The Secretary of the Antique Fair happened to be my friend Leighton Dixon whom I wired. He replied, “Pottery, minor repairs foot and tail. B.A.D.A. Seal. I love it,” and the price. I wired back, “Will accept,” and I had a T’Ang Horse. I did not recieve [receive] it until after the fair ended but did see a very poor picture of it on T.V., this did little to impress me.

However, on arrival I was delighted, it was a superb animal, full of life. Dixon Antique’s Ltd. made me a present of the book “The T’Ang Potter” for which I am very grateful, and from this I feel sure that mine is not a copy, and is in fact a very fine example of the T’Ang Horse. Everyone who visit’s my home gravitates at once to the T’Ang Horse and it has excited much admiration.

On referring the matter to Christie’s they informed me that to be a copy it must have been made later than 1900 as the first originals, which were funerary ornaments, were only discovered after the turn of the century, and as this has the B.A.D.A. stamp on it, it must be an original. Be that as it may, as a friend of mine with a fund of first hand knowledge of China, and its porcelain, said, “Who knows? Who can really tell? Suffice that it be a magnificent piece of work,” And so we leave it at that, well content.

It is surprising just what is hidden away in the homes of people in New Zealand. One morning I received a telegram from a lady in Christchurch, “Arriving mid-day plane.” I knew the lady existed but little else, not having met her, but I was amazed to find quite an elderly lady awaiting me at the airport. She turned out to be an ex-teacher of girls at New Plymouth High School, married now to a small farmer near Christchurch. She had travelled a good deal and had a great love of old porcelain and had actually brought some with her. After a most interesting chat I finally purchased a fine Meissen figure, 19th Century, but very

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[Photo caption]

(600-900 A.D.)

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fine, of a “Turk” and also a modern Nymphenburg figure of a “Huntsman with Dogs” in the white porcelain. Although modern in manufacture, it was cast in the original Bustelli mould and is a very beautiful piece of work.

What actually brought the lady up was the hope that she could persuade me to sell her the Hadley Worcester figure of a “Boy Musician”, making me a most attractive offer, but I could not part with this beautiful figure so had to disappoint my visitor. She rather “rocked” both my wife and myself when she intimated that she was flying back to Wellington at 3 p.m. When I took her to the airport the wind was too strong for the plane to land and the lady had to sit around until nearly 5 p.m. when the passengers were taken to Palmerston North by bus, finally arriving at Wellington about 10 p.m. We were very perturbed but actually I think she really enjoyed the whole business, tough? I’ll say!

What must really be the last episode concerns the Hochst figure mentioned in my chapter on books. This 12″ figure of a “Beggar” is a very fine figure indeed and I was much intrigued as to why the owners disposed of it. Catalogued as being of 1820 vintage was, of course, quite wrong as the Hochst factory ceased operating in 1796. The figure bears a marked resemblance to those figures modelled by Simon Feilner, a renowned craftsman, and bearing the painter’s mark of Danhofer in addition to the Hochst six-spoked wheel, I felt sure that a wrong assessment had been made. Further it had a rustic grassy mound for a base which was used from 1765 until the factory closed down. As the donor of this figure to the collection started giving his collection in 1877 and died in 1885 it is hardly likely that this figure could be a copy as these were only made from 1836 to 1840 so that I think that it certainly is an original dating to about 1770.

The latest addition to my collection of porcelain is a beautiful group of Lady and Gentleman dressed in Swedish Court Dress, a well known Meissen creation, modelled by

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Michel-Victor Acier, a famous French “model Meister” at Meissen at the time just previous to the retirement of J. J. Kaendler, their most famous craftsman. This piece is about 10″ high and extremely heavy and marked with the“Crossed Swords” mark of the period.


For many years I had been interested in paintings, etc. but had never had the wherewithal to indulge in my fancy, having to be content with prints, etc. My interest in old New Zealand books naturally led me to a reading of books referring to the Maori people and this, I think, caused me to become interested in the work of C. F. Goldie. This artist portrayed the Maori character, pigment, and attitudes as no other artist has been able to do, though many have tried.

The arrival one day of a catalogue of paintings to be sold at Bethune’s brought to my notice the fact that they would be offering a small painting by Goldie of “Ena Te Papatahi”. This chieftainess was a niece of Tamati Waka Nene, a famous chief, and a chieftainess of the Ngapuhi’s in her own right. I decided that I would try and buy this painting and made the trip to Wellington for this purpose, incidentally it was at this sale that I also purchased the Ming jade “Lion of Fo”.

This was my first venture into the “big money” and naturally I was somewhat excited. The opinion was that the painting would bring about £300, this was about the

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[Photo caption]

Pencil Drawing – “PIPI PUZZLED”
C. F. Goldie

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limit of my resources. After the usual recital the picture was duly put up and a number of bids came rapidly, 100, 200, 300 guineas, pictures are always sold in the aristocratic manner, guineas, never the bourgeois pound. By now there were only three bidders and soon only two, a very determined opponent and myself. I too was getting cold feet and felt that perhaps I was getting a bit out of my class bidding over 300 guineas for a small 10″ by 8″ picture! ! ! However, I too can be determined and I plodded on stolidly hoping that my friend would soon tire, but no, he went on relentlessly to 395 guineas. Four hundred guineas was now my absolute limit and if he called my bluff I had “had it,” however, at 400 guineas there was silence and the picture was mine! ! ! But was it? Mr. Pollock held his hammer aloft, for the first time, for the second time, and then to my horror he said, “Perhaps you gentlemen would like a little time to consider! ! ! “Hell, why doesn’t he knock it down?” I said audibly, and the chap next to me looked at me and grinned, he sensed how I was really sweating. However not getting any response, the auctioneer, in that calm and dignified manner for which Bethune’s are noted, said, “Mr. Vogtherr, thank you,” and to a gentle ripple of polite applause I secured my first painting. ’Twas then that I met a gentleman who came up and asked particulars. This was the late Eric Ramsden, the author and authority on the Maori and his life and works, he was then Art Correspondent for the “Evening Post”. He told me that my opponent was Mr. Vivian Donald of Masterton, who owned a particularly fine collection of Goldie portraits and also many other old New Zealand paintings by famous artists. So ended my first venture into the world of paintings, etc.

Fate dealt rather harshly with both Mr. Ramsden and myself soon after this occurrence. I went to hospital for a series of major operations which were to put me into and out of hospital for a period of about six years or so and to leave me permanently unable to work, and Mr. Ramsden died during this period, a very great loss to the world of literature and art.

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For the next few months I was fully occupied in recovering what health remained to me. As time went on I got more and more interested in collecting, as being rather a restless being, the depriviation of the ability to work or get around as before rather appalled me. However, as I got more and more interested in my hobbies, I felt the need to work at my business less, and only went to business when I felt the urge. However, my recovery was slow with many setbacks, and I entered hospital on two further occasions, the last being in September, 1962. I took some time to recover from this operation and after being there some considerable time, and not making a great deal of progress, I was getting very restless when I had a letter from my friend, Mr. Fair of Bethune’s, advising me that they had a fine painting of “Patara” by C. F. Goldie, coming up soon.

I knew “Patara” by reputation but had never seen the painting. “Patara” was the first Maori newspaper editor, and to add to his uniqueness he also was bald, something unusual in a Maori. “Patara” was quite a man and conducted a war of his own against Sir John Gorst, who conducted a newspaper for the Government on the other side of the river to the Kingites, at Ngaruawahia, in the Waikato. One night Patara’s warriors swam the river and destroyed the opposition printing press. Because of the man’s history I was particularly keen to secure this painting. “Patara” was a favourite model of Goldie’s who used to pay him 5/- per hour to sit for him. Patara’s brother was a much shrewder man and upbraided Patara for sitting for so small a reward when Goldie could make hundreds of pounds out of him, but Patara took no notice and came regularly to sit for his friend. One day when sitting in the sun whilst Goldie painted, Patara fell asleep, this painting of Patara asleep is reputed to be the greatest of all Goldie’s Maori studies.

I have digressed somewhat to tell of this painting, Fair estimated that the painting would bring in the vicinity of £300 or guineas rather, I was somewhat sceptical and authorised him to go to £500 for me. On the day of the sale I was somewhat elated as I felt that I would surely get

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it, for my offer was a very good figure for a small painting only about 8″ x 9″. I waited more or less patiently until at lunch time the nurse brought in my tray, and on it lay the fateful telegram, “Sorry, picture brought 525 guineas,” and signed Fair. I felt horribly depressed and ate my lunch very reluctantly. Switching on my bedside radio at 12.30 as usual I heard the announcer say that the price for “Patara” was a record for Wellington, but that another Goldie painting of a middle-aged dignified Rangitira, had been passed in at £175, the reserve being £200. Immediately I remembered this portrait hanging in Mr. Fair’s office when I had visited him some months before. I could hardly wait until 2 o’clock until my wife came to visit me. I rushed her off to the ’phone to ring Bethune’s and tell them I would give them the £200, this she did and fortunately was in time and the painting was mine. The Rangitira turned out to be “Wirimu Tamehana”, the King Maker, and is a fine portrait. In fact Eric Ramsden said in the “Evening Post” quote, “It is, in my opinion, a far better portrait than the one that changed hands recently for 400 guineas.” To me, he went farther than that and said that I should never have had it, as being painted in 1900, it was both historically and artistically too valuable to be outside the National Gallery. I re-assured him by telling him that that was exactly where it would finish, in some gallery.

On returning home from hospital I spent a lot of time and effort trying to find out what I could regarding this painting. It was Mr. Fisher, the ethnologist at the Auckland Museum, who finally established that it was in fact “Wirimu Tamehana” and the Turnbull Library went to a lot of trouble to assist me, actually sending me photostat copies of all the matter they possessed with regard to the works of C. F. Goldie and charged the huge sum of 12/6 for their trouble. When I sent them a cheque for £1 they returned it, saying that they could not accept the extra. Is it any wonder all lovers of the Turnbull Library had very great reservations upon its amalgamation with the National Library.

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[Photo captions]

John Constable R.A.
Signed and dated 1834

Frances Hodgkins
Signed and dated 1900

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Wednesday, the 2nd of September, 1964, was a fateful day so far as my collecting of paintings went, as on this day Bethune’s were offering the collection of watercolours, drawings, etchings, etc., on behalf of Mr. F. M. Hanan of Dunedin. Also there were a few porcelain figures and other porcelain pieces from his collection, these have been described in a previous chapter. Knowing nothing about paintings, my attention was attracted to the famous names in the catalouge [catalogue], painters and artists who were world famous, and rarely seen in New Zealand. I told my wife that we must attend this sale as I doubted whether ever again would such a fine collection be offered in New Zealand.

I had no idea as to values, but as luck would have it, my friend John McDonald stayed a night with us just prior to the sale, and he gave me some ideas as to what they would be likely to bring. His ideas were not particularly frightening, so I set to work to select from the catalogue those that I would be interested in. These included watercolours by Constable, Thos. Girtin, Samuel Prout, Peter de Wint, David Cox, drawings by John Sell Cotman, Burne-Jones, Poussin, Claude Lorraine. Etchings by Van Dyke, Rembrandt, Durer, Brangwyn, etc. We duly made the trip and the evening before the sale my wife and myself made a thorough inspection of the offering. One that we had not counted on, a painting of “Interior of Cathedral” by James Holland, made an immediate impression but as we knew nothing about this artist and there were no particulars given in the catalogue, I decided not to bid for this item.

A whisper going around the saleroom gave the impression that very high reserves were on certain of the items, reserves well beyond my capacity, and I should imagine of most other potential buyers. Therefore, on returning to the hotel I revised my selections and having inspected them pretty thoroughly, made what I imagined a very good selection. When the sale commenced I bought the porcelain figures that I required, and then had a cup of coffee to pass the time until they got to the pictures.

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It very soon became apparent that Dame Rumour had not been far out, passings were frequent amongst the first few offerings, and I felt that I was not going to be able to buy all those that I had marked down as desirable. Then a noticeable change came over the sale and bids were now being accepted more freely. I let the first Girtin pass, John McDonald buying this, the second one came up and ran up to £130, or rather guineas, and I let it go. I had marked down a nice small watercolour by David Cox entitled “Goodrich Castle on the Wye” and this had the Fine Art Society certification, there were others by Cox but I liked this best and finally it was knocked down to me at 55 guineas. The Constable sepia drawing came up next, but at £250 it was passed in, the reserve being 450 guineas, far beyond my limits. I left the room for a while and on my return a couple of the three Prouts catalogued were on the easels. I bid up to £25 and one entitled “Old Houses in Cologne” was knocked down to me. I was quite surprised as I imagined I was bidding for the other one entitled “Street Scene, Rouen, 1847”, however this was not so, and it taught me to be more careful in future. The one I secured was quite a nice one but I preferred the other one. Only one of the De Wints was offered and I let it go, not knowing that the other two were not being offered. My next bid was for a set of four sepia miniatures, each 2″ x 1″, by John Varley, these were a delightful set and were signed by the artist. I heard that the reserve was 35 guineas but they were knocked down to me at 32 ½ guineas. I had to ration my available cash so now had some time to wait so went out, leaving John McDonald to hold my seat for me, and Doris went with me for a light lunch.

After lunch the etchings were offered and I was in the market for the Van Dyke, two Rembrandts and the Durer. The Van Dyke, a fine etching of the artist “Judocus De Momper Pictor” was keenly sought after and I had to go to fifty guineas to secure it, my little hoard of cash was becoming rapidly depleted. Possibly the finest item of the sale came up next, the Rembrandt etching “Clement de

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Jonghe”, a fine piece of work, this was passed in at 75 guineas, the reserve being 450 guineas. Later this was bought by Sir John Illot who also bought the other Rembrandt “Jan Lutma”. Sir John later presented both these to the National Art Gallery so I did not mind losing them to this institution.

My next objective was a lovely pastel drawing of a “Head of a Girl” by Burne-Jones, this had been presented to Mr. Hanan by a friend in England who had procured it from one of the Burne-Jones family, in addition it had been authenticated by the Fine Art Society of London. Competition for this was very keen indeed and I had to go to 30 guineas to secure it. McDonald seemed delighted that I had got it and smacked me on the back, not being very demonstrative usually, I naturally assumed that he also liked the drawing. I was now running very close to finality with regard to cash, and I still badly wanted the Durer etching, “Pilate washing his hands before Christ”, signed and dated 1512. I really wanted this and awaited the offering with something approaching apprehension, how high would it go? Would I be able to afford it? I had not long to wait for the small 4″ x 3″ copper engraving to be offered. I must have wanted it badly for I found myself in a sweat, whether I was just tired or excited I don’t know. Anyway it rattled up to 30 or 40 guineas and then seemed to hang fire somewhat, I had heard that there was a reserve of 75 guineas on it, I was prepared to go to that but no further. Finally it was knocked down to me at 50 guineas. This was my last item, money was running short and I had to let go several that I would have liked to buy. However I had marked down in my catalogue “who bought” and “at what price”, the pictures that I was interested in.

There was an unfortunate sequel to the Durer purchase. On referring same to Mr. Osbert Barnard, a London print expert, it was found that this print was a “copy in reverse” and completely valueless. In order that this would not keep floating around I gave this print to Mr. Barnard for his collection of “copies”. I have been singularly unfortunate

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[Photo captions]

Thos. Girtin (1775-1802)

“LANDSCAPE” – Chalked on Blue Paper
Claude Lorraine (Gellee) (1600-82)

Both pictures from the Collection of Sir Frank Brangwyn, R.A.

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with my Durer purchases as another one that I purchased later turned out also to be a “copy in reverse”. After this I bought the book “Durer, The Complete Engravings, Etchings and Woodcuts” by Karl-Adolf Knappe, so that I have something to refer to in future. It becomes expensive having to burn 50 guineas worth of “fakes” too often.

I was a rather tired man when I finally reached home with my treasures, two porcelain figures and six of the paintings, etc. I was sorry that I had missed the Cotman, Claude Lorraine, and the Girtin but I got a very good selection so actually I felt very satisfied. A couple of days later my wife was bemoaning the fact that I had not bought the Holland painting. I rang Mr. Fair at Bethune’s about my purchases and happened to mention that I was in the “dog box” for not buying the Holland. He told me that it was not sold being one of the early ones that had been passed in. I asked him the price, £50, I offered him £40 on my wife’s behalf and he accepted this offer. My wife was delighted and when it arrived we saw at once that we had indeed another gem. I have since ascertained that this painting was the subject of a full page colour presentation in the 1929 Annual put out by the Old Water Colour Society’s Club in London, and also that it had been exhibited at one of the big exhibitions in London in 1946, and had finally been presented to Mr. Hanan by the Fine Art Society Ltd. of London in appreciation of his work in securing the Brangwyn Murals for New Zealand. My wife is very proud of her acquisition.

I later got very friendly with Mr. Hanan and corresponded frequently with him. After some dickering I bought the small Constable sepia wash drawing “Farm and Mill” for £250, it having been passed in at the sale. I also acquired the Thos. Girtin watercolour, “River Scene in Yorkshire” and the Claude Lorraine “Landscape in chalk on blue paper” from John McDonald. Naturally, I had to pay more for these than would have been the case at auction but I felt that they were essential to my collection.

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Hearing that Rodney Smith had also bought a few items at the sale I bought the Cotman drawing “Abbey Church of Montevilliers”, a pencil drawing in preparation for his etching of this name in his book “The Antiquities of Normandy” which contains 100 Cotman etchings and is dated 1821 (which went with the drawing), included in this deal was also the book “Thos. Sell Cotman” which actually has a photograph of the actual drawing that I have. These last items I bought at a very reasonable figure, and I consider them a very great addition to my small collection. Smith also had bought the Samuel Prout that I had missed so I also bought this from him, I think it is a very good Prout and a very good addition to the collection. Incidentally I would not have been able to buy these latter paintings had it not been for a lucky break. Shortly after returning home I was lucky enough to get a “draw” in the building society and again a further “draw” a month or two later, how lucky can you get?

Two very important things emerged from this sale. Firstly I was able to establish very friendly relations with Mr. F. M. Hanan, from Dunedin, the vendor of the paintings and secondly I established contact with a Mr Norman Oberg of Christchurch, a dealer in books, etc., and with whom I did quite a fair amount of business later on. Collectors need these friendly contacts, it is vitally necessary and adds greatly to the joy of collecting, besides being of great value in discovering just when and where certain desirable things are domiciled. It is extremely valuable to be able to write to people who “know” for advice on the many matters that crop up with the business of collecting, no matter what branch you may be interested in.

In December 1965, Mr. F. M. Hanan died suddenly. I was to miss him greatly as a source to whom I could refer when in doubt but before he died I purchased from him a Constable, a Richard Wilson, Francis Nicholson “Durham Cathedral”, a fine Thomas Collier “Winter Morning”, Fred. Walker “Mother and Child” and a small etching “Self Portrait” by Anders Zorn. Recently Mrs. Hanan kindly

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presented to me a fine bookplate by the late Dr. McLintock so that I now had no less than nineteen items from the Hanan Collection.

On the 5th of July, 1967, a further sale of paintings, etc., from the Hanan Collection took place at Bethune’s, about forty items being offered. I attended and found, as usual, that anything that I wanted made a good price, others were relatively cheap. I secured a very nice Prout “The Tall Columns” giving me now three Prouts, this one being signed with his initials. I also bought a couple of Cotman’s, the one “Figures in a Cave” going to 65 guineas. A lovely small aquatint by Phillipe de Loutherburg, a rare artist, also came my way, also a sketch “Italian Peasant” by Edward Lear, came in for keen competition but fell to me eventually at 33 guineas. A sepia drawing by Peter de Wint “Okehampton, 1807”, signed, was passed in after a keen battle and I afterwards secured it at 80 guineas. A notable happening was the offering of a small pen and wash drawing by J. M. W. Turner, R.A., entitled “The Keep and Mountjoy Watch Tower of Carisbrook Castle”with collectors mark. I was not too sure of this one and did not bid. It was passed in at 30 guineas and was offered to me at £35, I did not accept the offer and it was sold to a lady at this figure. The purchaser, it transpired some months later, submitted it to the Keeper of the Prints at the British Museum and he identified it as being not by Turner, but by an Irish painter William Henry Brooke (1772-1860), a well and favourably known painter and book illustrator. This I learned some months later when on a visit to Wellington. Mr. Fair, of Bethune & Co., produced the drawing from out of the safe and offered it to me at $65, the lady, disappointed no doubt, had returned it to the firm. I did not hesitate as it is a fine drawing no matter whose work it was. I queried the opinion of the Keeper, as this drawing had come by way of Sir Frank Brangwyn’s Collection as well as Mr. Hanan’s. However he stuck to his opinion and his attribution seemed to be well sustained so I now have it endorsed with his opinion attached.

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[Photo captions]

Oil Painting – “DUTCH GIRL”
Petrus Van Der Velden – Signed

Original Etching
Rembrandt H. Van Ryn

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I made a special trip to Auckland to bid for a Frances Hodgkin’s watercolour “Waiting for the Fishing Boats, Puketeraki”, signed and dated 1900. This was No. 137 in the catalogue of E. H. McCormick’s “Works of Frances Hodgkins” and had originally been in the possession of Dr. Francis L. Scott who had inherited it from his father Dr. J. H. Scott. As I knew that this same Dr. Scott had been one of Frances Hodgkins harshest critics and a friend of the family, I reasoned this must be a good watercolour. I was not disappointed and as usual someone else wanted it too; I had a very hard fight with a lady buyer who ran me to £160 before it was finally knocked down to me.

I also bought at Cordy’s a fine oil painting of a “Dutch Girl” by Petrus Van Der Velden, this is greatly admired and I count myself lucky to have had this knocked down to me at £100. I later bought a fine watercolour and a pencil drawing of ships at sea by Van Der Velden. At the sale of the pencil drawing there were many watercolours of the usual type by Hoyte, Gully, etc., these left me cold as they brought their two and three hundred pounds and I sat patiently all day until the pencil drawing by Van Der Velden was knocked down to me at £27. Some one remarked “small beer for you”, my reply was that I preferred it to all the “chocolate boxy” pictures sold for very high prices that day.

One day in 1965 a catalogue from Geo. Walker Ltd. really set things alight, there was to be offered a small watercolour by John Constable, R.A., this was really something. We made a special trip to Auckland and duly called to see the painting. It was framed in a most attractive, highly ornamental gilt frame, and as advertised, signed “John Constable, R.A.” and dated 1834. It was a most delicate watercolour of a farm and pond and had been purchased by the vendor’s father in Australia about 1905. The story was that it had been given to a friend of Constable’s and accompanying it was a letter from Dolly Lott who was Constable’s housekeeper at that time, his wife having recently died. Students will recall that one of

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Constable’s most famous paintings was called “Willy Lott’s Farm”, I have no doubt that Dolly was a daughter of this Willy Lott. Unfortunately the letter was loaned to the Auckland City Art Gallery and somehow it was lost and no trace of it can be found, most unfortunate. The picture apparently was on sale in Australia for £100 but the vendor’s father, after a few months dickering, bought it for £40. I already had one Constable but I felt that I must have this one as it was very well authenticated and had in fact been offered to Pierpont Morgan for £500 in 1905, but it was not large enough for his taste.

It was a fearfully hot day when the sale took place and everyone had their coats off. The excitement had the sweat pouring off me, of course, my state of health no doubt contributed to this. Well, the sale started quietly enough and the price crept up to £290 when for some reason it hung fire. The auctioneer who had started it, or tried to, at £1500, was obviously disappointed but said that the owner was an old man and needed the money and there was no reserve upon it. I sat there sweating, holding my breath, hardly daring to breathe, whilst he went through the motions for first time, for the second time, for the third, and then the bidding started again. It crept slowly up in £25 bids, I was told there were four bidders. It crept up to £400, £500 and I almost “chickened out”. A dealer I knew and his friend saw me hesitate and came over. “Don’t lose it, it’s still cheap,” they said. I was not too sure but I carried on, might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, and so on to £588 when the opposition wilted and the drawing was mine.

I dodged the press, grabbed the drawing, and made for my motel and next morning left for Hawke’s Bay without seeing anyone. The Press built it up into a mystery, Geo. Walker Ltd. played along with it and refused to divulge the buyer’s name. It was not until some weeks later that the local Hastings paper tracked me down, but even then they did not know the price, now it does not matter, if it ever did.

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[Photo captions]

Sanguine Wax
Chalk Drawing
C. F. Goldie

Oil Painting
“Reminiscences of Rahapa Hinetapu”
C. F. Goldie

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A popularity poll recently, 1968, said that in Britain, Constable still headed the list. He has always been a very popular artist with the ordinary people, he depicted the England they knew and loved.

Much of the joy of collection comes from the amount of research and investigation that goes into it. It is interesting to note that having sent a series of photographs, information, etc., to a number of sources in Britain, I got very much the same replies and selection from them all. For instance the Fine Art Society, Christie’s and the “Connoisseur” all selected my Burne-Jones drawing, the two latter selected the same three items, the Burne-Jones, the Claude Lorraine and the Cotman drawing. It is very important to get an overseas opinion as we are apt to be carried away by our own likes and dislikes without having any real knowledge.

There is also an element of adventure that enters into collecting and one also gets a better insight into people’s character by so doing. I had a very good example of this when I purchased the C. F. Goldie painting of “Reminiscences of Rahapa Hinetapu” painted in 1934. We had made a trip to Wellington to attend an auction of another Goldie painting called “Smiling Eyes”. On seeing it, we decided that we did not like this one so made our way to the Antique Fair which was in progress at Wakefield House on The Terrace. Here we saw another Goldie painting which again, we did not like, it appeared to have been restored and had a rather “washed out” look. As customary when visiting Wellington we paid a visit to Mr. Fair at Bethune’s and whilst there one of the staff announced that a certain Dr. __ wished to see Mr. Fair. We excused ourselves and made for the door when Mr. Fair called out. “Are you coming back?” We said, “No,” and made for the sale where “Smiling Eyes” was to be sold. We saw this sold for 600 guineas which we considered a rather high price.

At lunch at our hotel, the ’phone rang, it was Mr. Fair asking for me. I answered and he said, “Want to buy a Goldie?” Thinking he was joking, I told him of the sale of “Smiling Eyes” at 600 guineas. His reply, “If that was worth

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[Photo captions]

Oil Painting – “HERA PUNA”
C. F. Goldie

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that I have one here worth fifteen hundred,” made me sit up and take notice, so arranged to see him at 2 p.m. The painting af [of] “Rahapa Hinetapu” took our fancy at once and Mr. Fair explained that as we walked out, the owner walked in with it under his arm and enquired if they knew anyone wanting to buy a Goldie, hence his message to me.

I immediately offered to buy it if the price was reasonable, after some dickering I bought it for £550 subject to the owner’s approval. This was soon forthcoming and as I wrote the cheque the owner expressed his very great appreciation of my action as HE WAS VERY HARD UP, this I found difficult to believe as I surveyed his well dressed appearance and evident culture. Later he again thanked me and told me he was leaving for the Middle East the next day having accepted an overseas appointment. Discussing my purchase at the hotel later, I mentioned my disbelief of his being “hard up” to the owner of the hotel who knew the owner very well. She assured me that it was quite correct, a very wealthy man, he had, with the concurrence of his family, given his whole fortune to “Moral Re-Armament”. My wife and I agreed that this was one occasion when we paid up quite joyfully, it is not often one meets with such a person.

Shortly after this episode another Goldie was advertised for sale at a Wellington saleroom, it was that of “Hera Puna” the wife of the Chief Hori Ngatapa, painted in 1919. “Hera Puna” was famous historically as the woman who saw her husband confronted by British soldiers with his weapon unloaded and helpless, she immediately stepped in front of him allowing him to escape as she knew that the British soldiers would not fire on a woman. Such a woman deserved to be preserved in art and I resolved to make enquiries about this painting, I ascertained that it was being sold by the trustees of an estate and had a reserve of £650 upon it. My health was not too good at this period and I arranged for my son to drive me down and we left at 7 a.m. in the Porsche. The picture was not to be sold until 1 p.m. so we had ample time to have a meal after arriving in

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Wellington. Knowing the reserve we sat back watching it rise from £500 in £50 bids until it reached £650, the reserve price. It hung fire at this figure and when the auctioneer appealed for bids I bid another £10. The horrified auctioneer glared at me and said, “Ten pounds?” I replied, “Yes, you had £650 and I bid £10 extra making it £660.” No further bids being forthcoming it was duly knocked down to “cash” and we had it wrapped and made, for home, arriving back at Westshore before 7 p.m., just in time for tea, having been to Wellington, bought our Goldie and back home, a distance of about 450 miles, in just under twelve hours, quite an achievement. Consequent upon this, a well known North Island dealer called to see me and seeing “Hera Puna”, told me that he wanted it and had been the underbidder, and later still a well known Wellington lawyer called to see me and seeing “Hera Puna” said, “Huh, you’ve got it. I called at the Mart but they told me some chap had bought it, paid cash and disappeared. I half thought it might be you.”

Not being a millionaire and having bought two expensive Goldie’s in a short period, I had to do something about it and regretfully sold one of my paintings of “Ena Te Papatahi” for about £100 more than I paid for it, this helped to restore my finances somewhat.

Referring to Goldie’s paintings of “Ena Te Papatahi”, of whom there are many, I read in the “Dominion” that a painting of her originally owned by the Edwardian actor Cecil Ward had been sold in London, it was bought by a New Zealander, Mr. N. F. Layther, an airline pilot, for an undisclosed amount and repatriated to New Zealand. Recently, an Auckland dealer showed it to me and asked if I would be interested, of course I was, but not at £1500. This is the measure of value now being applied to paintings of Chas. F. Goldie, Another entitled “Chief Wharehauri of the Tuhoe Tribe” started at $1000 (£500) being finally knocked down at $2140 (£1070) to Messrs. Edward Lumley & Sons Ltd., Lloyd’s representatives in New Zealand, and will no doubt grace their Board Room for many years.

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Recently a merger was announced of all Government Libraries, including the Alexander Turnbull Library, into the National Library. As the Turnbull had been very good to me I naturally felt anxious that it might lose its identity and come under bureaucratic control but so far my fears have not been substantiated and I feel that the Turnbull Library will remain what it has been for years, a mine of information to the enquirer, and I hope that its present helpful staff will remain with it.

From 1965 on, Messrs. Cordy & Co. Ltd., of Auckland, had held a series of exciting and important auctions, many rare and valuable items being offered, one in particular rather arousing my indignation. I had, in December 1965, been offered in London, a Nicholas Chevalier painting of “Lake Te Anau” 1872, for £150, I felt this should be in New Zealand and not in London. Accordingly I asked permission to import this item and, a friend having offered me London funds, I felt sure of my request being acceeded to. To my amazement, permission was refused and finally I received a cable from London saying that the painting had been sold. Though disappointed, I did appreciate the difficulty if the Government until a few months later I received Cordy’s catalogue with my Chevalier featured as the central spread. I resolved to attend the sale, the picture was a very lovely watercolour, but I was not prepared to see it rattle up very quickly to £425. I felt thoroughly disgusted, I could have bought it for £150 without use of overseas funds. I would have donated it to a New Zealand Art Gallery, but here it was imported on license, using good New Zealand Funds, so short at the moment, and someone paid an enormous sum for it, £425, and this the Government approved, maybe I’m silly but it just does not add up. Incidentally, this painting came from the Captain Spencer Churchill Collection so it must have been good.

During the period 1966 to 1968 I secured a number of Rembrandt etchings from a dealer in Christchurch. Their origin is not certain but it could be that they came to

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New Zealand with Petrus Van Der Velden in 1890. They were all “warranted” and came from various institutions and collections. In all I secured six Rembrandt’s, one Adrien Ostade and one Gerard Dou, a very interesting selection.

On September 26th, 1966, a very interesting item was advertised at Cordy’s, being a presentation sword. This was a superbly-jewelled scimitar, presented to Lieut. Gen. Sir Duncan Cameron, it was a beautiful piece of work and excited very great interest. General Cameron, of course, was the Commander of the British troops at the battle of Wereroa Pa who refused to attack the Pa, much to the annoyance and disgust of Sir Geo. Grey who was with the troops in the field at the time. Whilst Cameron, with 2000 Imperial troops, stood idly by, Grey rounded up 139 Forest Rangers, 309 friendly natives, and 25 of the Wanganui Cavalry and placing himself at their head, proceeded to attack the Pa which he captured at great personal risk, with the loss of only one man and in addition, succeeded in capturing a party of Maories coming to reinforce the Pa, fifty in number. An account of this action is to be found in Gudgeon’s “Defenders of New Zealand”.

Bidding started at £1000 rising to £1500 when only two bidders remained, a young Aucklander and another man, unknown. Actually, according to my records, 27 bids were made until it was finally knocked down, amidst loud and long applause, to the young Aucklander for £3000.

My purchases at this sale, which fell rather flat after great excitement, amounted to a beautiful Bracket Clock by Benjamin Ward of London. On arrival, I had been greeted by a well known dealer with, “Huh, you’ve arrived to muck things up,” Rather taken aback I replied, “Why?” His reply was brief, “I only want one thing, that clock.” Mine, equally brief, was, “Well, I’ve come six hundred  miles to buy it,” and I think he knew I would. Eventually it was knocked down to me at £120, an expert horologist checked it over for me and assured me it was good and would last a very long time yet, it dates to about 1790. I also secured

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a Ballamine Jug made by John Dwight of Fulham, in or about 1600, also a nice small watercolour of “Coldwell Rocks” by A. V. Copley Feilding.

In November of 1966, Cordy’s secured another scoop. They put up for auction the Maori War Medal, the New Zealand Cross, only 23 of these were awarded and this one was awarded to Lieut.- Col. Thomas McDonnell of the New Zealand Militia for outstanding bravery. Again there was intense interest and excitement, it was known that about £2000 was expected for the medal, also it was rumoured a London firm had commissioned an agent to go to £1750 or more to secure the medal. Another private collector from Auckland was known to be determined to secure it also, so there was a ripple of excitement when the medal was duly put up. From £500 the bids rose quickly at £100 a time until only the London agent and the Aucklander were left in the fight. The local man dropped out at £1700 and disclosed that he too was acting for a London dealer, so that Mr. John McDonald of Dixon Antiques Ltd., secured the medal at £1750. It then became known that the Queen’s Jewellers of London, Messrs. Spink & Son Ltd., were the buyers. Mr. McDonald also disclosed that he had authority to go a lot higher.

Included in this sale were another couple of rare and important items: a drawing by Vlaminck and a large early watercolour by Mondrian, neither of which appealed to me. The Vlaminck was reputed to be worth about £200 and it was widely rumoured that the Mondrian had attracted an American postal bid of £2250, of course these have to be taken with a grain of salt. In effect I think the Vlaminck brought about £175 but the real excitement arose when the Mondrian came forward. I would not have bought it at any price, it just did not appeal to my plebian taste. However, sitting next to me was an Auckland dealer with £1200 in his pocket for it so I waited the sale with very great interest. Entitled “The House at Laren” by Piet Mondrian, a noted Dutch artist, it looked dark and dingy to me. Bids came very quickly, my friend who was bidding for an

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Amsterdam firm, dropped out at £1600 and it went eventually to Messrs. Dixon & Co. Ltd. as agents for a New York firm at the price of £2250, so that for once Dame Rumour was right.

In this month also I had a visit from a London dealer, now appointed Sotheby’s agent for Australasia, Mr. Reg. Longden. He showed me three or four small watercolours of Napier, painted in 1861 by a soldier serving in Hawke’s Bay, D. R. Barnes. Mr. Longden loaned these to the Hawke’s Bay Art Gallery eventually, I suggested that the Gallery should purchase these if possible. Mr. Longden agreed for £100, I told the Gallery to go ahead and I would donate them to the Society. These are now on exhibition in the gallery in Napier.

Around this period I had an interesting experience of how easy it is for the collector to make a mistake. My wife has a very nice watercolour by James Holland, R.W.S.
A Wellington picture dealer wrote to me with regard to selling me an oil painting by J. Holland. I agreed to look at it and it duly arrived on approval, I liked it and paid for it, £145 I think. Having recently been in touch with Mr. S. Morley Tonkin of Shrewsbury, England, I mentioned having purchased this oil by Holland, Mr. Morley Tonkin incidentally, was busy writing the life of James Holland. This gentleman rather took the wind out of my sails when he said the oil was not by James Holland, but by another painter, John Holland of Manchester, who had originally been a house painter and whose work was bringing about £50 on the London market. Fortunately for me, the dealer was a good chap and willingly refunded my money. However this is one way the collector can make mistakes, and the joy of collecting, “You Never Know”.

In May 1967, I again ventured forth to Cordy’s, this time in quest of a watercolour by Hercules Brabazon Brabazon, an old painter who ventured to try and copy Turner and was greatly admired by that loquacious critic, John Ruskin, also a small watercolour by Captain T. L.

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Hornbrook was to be put up. I liked the Brabazon, but the Hornbrook, of whom I knew very little, was simply a dirty bit of paper depicting a brig in a hurricane. I duly bought the Brabazon and looked rather disdainfully at the Hornbrook, when it stuck at £18 I ventured £19 and it was knocked down to me. On investigating, I found Hornbrook to be quite a famous painter of his day, being Marine Painter to the Duchess of Kent and later to her daughter who was to be Queen Victoria. I wrote to the National Maritime Museum at Grenwich [Greenwich] regarding the brig “Tobago” but they had never heard of it. So I wrote to Lloyds of London, they gave me full particulars of this ship. It only made one trip to New Zealand, the one depicted in the drawing, and then went into the Tasmanian trade, being eventually wrecked at Launceston, fortunately without loss of life, on June 7th, 1845. I was able to give this information to the Maritime Museum for which they were very grateful.

During May 1967 I heard from Messrs. Craddock & Barnard of London, that they had seen in a catalogue from Germany that a hand coloured engraved bookplate by Heinrich Vogtherr the elder was to be auctioned soon, this plate was done for the Kaiser Ferdinand, being of the armorial type. The artists Heinrich Vogtherr, father and son, were very famous engravers and illustrators of the period 1545 and thereabouts, they actually were responsible for the series of full length figures and escutcheons for the City of Augsburg. I have samples of their work in our family history, they, of course, being ancestors of our family. Naturally I was keen to procure this, but how I was to pay for it was another matter. Mr. Barnard very kindly offered to buy it for me as he would be attending the sale. The auctioneer estimated that it would bring around £200, I therefore cabled Barnard to go to £250 to secure it. Later I again cabled him to go to £300 but unfortunately he did not receive this cable in time and it was knocked down to another bidder for £263.
Mr. Barnard commented, “In any case I was rather disappointed with the print, which

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was much more damaged than I had expected from the catalogue description.” Thus ended another romance, most disappointing.

As my main object in collecting was to retain something of cultural value to Hawke’s Bay, my wife and I decided to offer one of our Goldie paintings to the Hastings Girls’ High School as a nucleous for a scholarship, this to be sold and we would make up the balance to £1000. However, with a change of head mistress and the current depressions, nothing happened, so my wife decided she would buy the Goldie portrait of “Ena Te Papatahi” from me and this would enable me to give the full £1000 immediately, thus we retained our beloved “Ena” in the family.

In November 1967, Cordy’s once more featured some interesting items, one particularly excited my interest being a rather fine Tibetan Buddha in bronze with traces of red and gilt decoration remaining. This came from the well reputed Hubner Collection and had been stolen earlier in the year. The police had recovered some items including this important bronze figure and it was to be sold now on behalf of the Insurance Co. involved. As I was unable to attend the sale, I commissioned the auctioneer, Mr. Peter Webb, to buy it for me, this he did and it is a very pleasing item, once again demonstrating the value of retaining the goodwill of auctioneer’s, etc.

1968 came in amidst an aura of despair and depression. Farm products, wool, meat, butter, etc., were all at low prices and the outlook rather grim. The whole country seemed to be feeling the weight of the enormous Wool Pile, that monument to man’s mishandling of God’s gifts. Worse to follow, however, were a train of disasters, natural and otherwise. We had the cyclonic storm around Wellington with the accompanying tragic sinking of the “Wahine”, quite close in to shore at the entrance of the harbour, with the loss of over fifty lives. The storm had almost wrecked Wellington and district and this was followed by the West Coast earthquake, with all its attendant losses, troubles, etc.;

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only one who had lived through the Hawke’s Bay ’quake in 1931 could fully appreciate what it all meant to the Coast people. As if that were not enough we had the fire on the “Gothic” with a loss of another seven lives and then, of course, we had heavy snowstorms in the South Island with losses of thousands of sheep and lambs, with floods and gales in the North Island. Abroad the Viet Nam stupidity continued, dragging its weary way accompanied by tragic suffering and death. As if this was not enough we had the stupid murders of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, to be followed by riots and looting all over the U.S.A. Verily it is truly said, “Those whom the Gods destroy they first make mad.” Since all this we have had stupendous earthquakes in Persia with the loss of 10,000 lives, the Middle East Wars, and as a final tragedy, the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact Powers, what a world! It is good that we do have hobbies to distract our attention from the madness around us.

Despite the gloom which has surrounded us for the past months, antiques of all descriptions continued to bring high prices. Silver was in particular demand and brought very high prices. Large mercantile firms developed the habit of furnishing their Board Rooms with large New Zealand paintings, Hoyt, Gully, Chevallier, Goldie, etc., being in great demand and very expensive. In December 1967, a painting of “Chief Wharehauri Tahuna of the Tuhoe Tribe” by C. F. Goldie, brought the phenomenal price of $2140 at Cordy’s. A silver coffee pot brought $1700 at George Walkers Ltd. A very large Chevallier brought $1800 at a Hastings sale, the Gully sold at the same sale realised $1200. At Geo. Walker & Sons Ltd. in August 1968, another C. F. Goldie entitled “Reverie” Te Aitu Te Irikau, brought $2100, whilst at the same sale a Charles Blomfield painting brought $320. Books, too, were in demand, an Angas “New Zealanders” was catalogued at $1750, an Earle at $500, whilst actual sales at Cordy’s of an Earle was $325, a Parkinson $100, a Wakefield $625 and one of Menzies “Maori Patterns”

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brought $75. Also in August 1968, silver sold at Cordy’s at terrific prices. A George II fruit basket realised $2600, George III teapot $475, George II hot water jug $500, and for a tiny silver wine taster $220 was paid. So there is corn in Egypt still.

A very pleasing happening was the purchase at Sotheby’s by a Hawke’s Bay enthusiast, of a pair of lovely water-colours by C. D. Barraud. It is good to see these treasures coming back home.

In February I travelled to Wellington to pick up a new car, a 91 IS Porsche, a magnificent example of old world engineering. Whilst in the Capital City I called upon my friend Andy Fair and he handed me a small drawing supposedly by J. M. W. Turner. It was a delightful little sketch and came from the Brangwyn Collection, reference, however, to the British Museum had established it as being by the Irish artist William Henry Brooke (1792-1860). I decided to buy it as it was a very nice piece of drawing. I also called upon Dick Reynolds, Smith’s Book Shop Ltd., and here I purchased a couple of superbly re-bound books, rebound [re-bound] by Brian Frost of Bath and adorned with fore edge paintings of New Zealand scenes, “The War in New Zealand” by Sir William Fox, had a painting of Mount Egmont, the other, “The Defenders of New Zealand” by Gudgeon, had a fine painting of Taranaki in war time with a long line of Red Coats marching across the country. Dick also showed me a copy of Augustus Earle’s “Sketches in New Zealand” but the price, $500, frightened me off.

Later I had occasion to ring George Walker Ltd. of Auckland in connection with a book in their catalogue. Mr. Wiberg advised me not to buy as it was in poor condition but he then told me that he had a two volume edition of “Hogarth’s Works” in beautiful order, bound in leather and heavily ornamented in gilt. He advised me to buy this item, I duly sent up a bid and they were knocked down to me for £10, a gift. Here again is demonstrated the value of making friends with dealers, auctioneers, etc.

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Following this I did a rather foolish thing in my state of health. I had received a catalogue from a Christchurch firm with a few attractive items, in particular a couple of Rembrandt etchings entitled “Self Portrait” and “Rembrandt’s Mother”, both highly desirable items and if genuine, of great value. Rather sceptical, I wrote to the firm concerned and received a favourable reply, “I feel these can be bought with absolute confidence, etc., etc.” Coming from the person concerned, in whom I had absolute trust, I decided to somehow make the trip. I would go by car to Wellington, stay the night and catch the ’plane to Christchurch at 9 a.m. next day, be in Christchurch at 10 a.m. I expected the items to be sold around 1 p.m. and would catch the ’plane back to Wellington at 2.30 p.m. arriving back in Wellington around 4 p.m., and home the next day. This would entail around 1000 miles in three days, a long way for a strong and well man, but monumental for a person in my state of health, what collectors will do when the bug bites. The trip went well, the Porsche, fast, light to handle and very, very comfortable, was no problem, in fact the ’plane covering vast areas of sea and land seemed slow by comparison. The etchings came up, I had to go to £110 to get the “Self Portrait” and to £60 for the other. I also bought a delightful pencil sketch by William Swainson of “Remarkable Rata Tree, 1847”, this too brought forth good competition and it was necessary to go to £35 to secure this. Arriving home I sent the etchings to a very competent young framer and around 2.30 p.m. the same day he rang me with a very sad story. The etchings were “etchings”, good etchings too, but not by Rembrandt, they were copies and stamped as such on the back, done by the German State Printing Office, being stamped to that effect and also bearing the German Printing Office watermark. One gets used to such disappointments and I sent these back and my friend the auctioneer had no hesitation in refunding my money, so for my 1000 mile journey I had only the lovely little Swainson drawing.

From now on I seemed dogged by misfortune, went to Taupo for a few days, caught a chill and had to return

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home. Set out for Auckland, where Cordy’s were to sell a couple of original G. F. Angas pen and ink sketches. The original oil painting of one entitled “Pepepe Church Missionary Station on the Waikato River” is in the Rex Nan Kivell collection in London and both are reproduced in G. F. Angas’ books “Savage Life and Scenes” and also in the Centennial publication “Making New Zealand”. The second one was a view of Murderers Bay, in Marlborough. These two items were just preparatory sketches but to me, a must. Well, disaster struck again, we got as far as Hamilton and decided to stay the night, that night my nose started to bleed and did so continuously until I was a nervous wreck, Auckland was out of the question so we made for home the next morning. However, these sketches haunted me the whole way and whilst my wife was preparing morning tea at Taupo, I made an excuse to go into town and made for the Post Office, here I rang through to Peter Webb at Cordy’s and placed a bid for the sketches just in time as they were due to go up soon after, I was fortunate to secure these. Later I ascertained that the underbidder was the Hocken Library in Dunedin, I felt a bit guilty in depriving this institution of these little gems so I wrote and promised that at my demise these would be forwarded to the Library, at least it eased my conscience.

This brings me to the last round of sales. A catalogue from a Wanganui firm disclosed that they were to sell three Swainson sketches and a damaged book “Birds of Brazil” also by Swainson. As it is only a short drive to Wanganui, especially in the Porsche, we set sail on the Saturday morning, arriving in plenty of time to get accommodation before the auctioneer reached the Swainson items. At the sale room I was greeted by my friend and dealer John McDonald, “You would, I’ll bet you’re after the Swainson’s.” I finally bought the nicest of these after being chased along to £30, entitled “My inherited cottage. Upper Hutt”, it is a delightful drawing. My friend bought the other two drawings. The book, rather tatty, with plates missing, brought a rather high price, as I thought, for its poor condition, it

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cost me £10, but had a number of very nice hand coloured prints intact, of birds, shells and butterflies. My bookbinder soon made a presentable book out of it. I heard afterwards that descendants of Swainson, who had been a resident surveyor in Rangitikei for some years, were keen to procure these items. However, it was not to be.

After seeing the book and having heard a suggestion that Swainson, who was a great friend of Buller, might have actually drawn the birds for Buller, I wrote to Messrs. Bernard Quaritch Ltd. of London to see if they had a copy of “Birds of Brazil”, they had, oh, boy! and the price with 66 of the original 78 hand coloured plates intact and nicely rebound in red calf, £105, but how to get that sort of money home in view of the present restrictions? I wrote, through my bank, to the Reserve Bank pointing out the desirability of having this work by an old colonist of New Zealand back where it belonged, and promising to leave it eventually to one of our leading libraries, was graciously given permission to remit the funds. Further investigation showed that the book that I bought originally was not the “Birds of Brazil” but an earlier one still, dated 1831, and entitled “Zoological Illustrations”, certainly collecting is never dull.

Today, September 17th, 1968, arrived airmail from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., the book “Birds of Brazil and Mexico” by Wm. Swainson, 1842. Swainson came to New Zealand shortly after this as I have drawings of his in the Hutt Valley, dated 1847 and 1849. The 66 handcoloured plates are superb and in perfect condition, most dated and signed, some with full name and the rest with W.S. This, I feel really completes my collection of books on “Birds” until I acquire some of John Gould’s works but as these rate as high as £700 for “The Toucans”, £650 for the monograph of the Ramphastidae, £600 for the “Trogans”, £375 for the “Humming Birds”, £5000 for “The Birds of Asia” and £2750 for the five volumes “Birds of New Guinea”, I hardly think that I should worry too much about these, they no doubt will find their way, as usual, to the U.S.A.

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The last two items in this narrative are most interesting, but I was not able to attend either of the sales, and had to rely again on the good offices of my friends the auctioneers. The first was an Art Club Sketch, entitled “An artist sketching in Otago” signed and dated 1889, by W. M. Hodgkins, the father of Frances Hodgkins. This is a particularly nice little watercolour and as I had been looking for something by this artist for a long time it was particularly pleasing to get such a nice one, Hodgkins prices run high and I had to go to £75 to acquire this one. The last item is a particularly interesting and intriguing one, a portrait of “Sir George Grey” signed W. Kinsey and dated 1864. Now at this period Sir George was in the field with the troops in Taranaki, and as no one can identify this artist, and I have tried all sources, even the Victoria and Albert Museum, without success, it is highly probable that this could have been done by a soldier with the British Troops in the field. However, it is a very desirable acquisition, complementing my collection of books by Sir George Grey. The price of this item, kindly handled for me by Mr. Wiberg of George Walker Ltd., Auckland, was not unduly high and I count myself lucky.

During the last quarter of 1968 there has been a spate of sales, many of these were offering highly desirable items and the difficulty was to attend all of them and also to finance the purchases made. October saw a Goldie painting of “Ena Te Papatahi” sold at Dunbar Sloane’s for £2000, the highest that I have heard of, this was the one offered me in Auckland for £1500, this, of course, being quite beyond my resources. It was bought by a wealthy Auckland manufacturer. The well known painting of “Sophia” also by Goldie, sold in Auckland at Cordy’s for £650. but as it had some time before been sold for £700 it sounds as though it had been passed in or someone lost a lot of money. Since this sale I have heard that this same picture had again been sold in Christchurch for £2000, I find this hard to believe.

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In November, an oil painting by Giralamo Pieri Nerli, the one time instructor of Frances Hodgkins and afterwards reputed to have been appointed Court Painter to the Vatican, was offered for sale by auction at Wanganui. The painting, of Nerli’s home village, was a very nice one and I made the journey and arrived just in time to see it offered, after a rather tense struggle it was knocked down to me at £62. My old friend, the Wellington dealer who chased me along for the “Lion of Fo” was sitting next to me and told me that I got the Nerli cheap, at least I was well satisfied.

At the end of November, Geo. Walker advertised an “Original sanguine wax crayon of a Maori Head”, signed C. F. Goldie, and believed to be one of only five in existence. I did not know what sort of drawing this was but research told me that it was a red chalk much used by famous artists of the past, Del Sarto, Michaelangelo, Corregio, Carrachi, Guercino and Rubens and Rembrandt on occasions. This rather intrigued me and I decided to try and make the effort to get to the sale. This I did and was rather startled to find what a fine drawing it was, other people thought so also and I had to go to $350 to get it, and I have not regretted doing so, it is a splendid drawing. Since buying this I was surprised to find that it was the same, although with different inscription, as the one that I missed out on so badly when in hospital, fate certainly plays funny tricks.

On the seventh of December, Cordy & Co. of Auckland advertised a sale which included an etching by Goya from the original edition of “Los Caprichos”, plate 61, together with the Sotheby’s catalogue at which it was sold in London. I wanted this to add to my collection of etchings, but my strength and also my cash was running low and I had to rely on Peter Webb of Cordy’s to handle the matter for me. I eventually secured this at a cost a little in excess of what I expected, £62/10/- to be exact, I would place its value at around £50, however, one cannot win all the time.

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For twenty-five years or so, I have gradually built up a modest, quite small collection, but by careful selection and rather ruthless culling, together with an insistance on good condition, I feel that I have now got something worth while, both for my own and my family’s satisfaction, and also for the ultimate good of the Nation. I would wish to distribute what I have in the best direction for the benefit of students who may be interested studying things of the past, our own history as well as British history, much of which is depicted in the many items in the collection.

For a hobby for any person contemplating retirement, let me suggest any of those that I have incorporated in my collection. Any or all have proved most absorbing and interesting and have given me endless pleasure.

May I, in conclusion, pay my humble tribute and grateful thanks to the dealers, Mr. John McDonald of Dixon Antiques Ltd., and Mr. David Cooke of Auckland, in particular; and to the auctioneers, Mr. A. Fair and Mr. L. Pollock of Bethune & Co., Mr. Peter Webb of Cordy & Co. Ltd. and also Mr. Wiberg of George Walker Ltd. All these people have been most kind to me, and without their help and co-operation I should never have achieved anything, again my grateful thanks.

And finally, one could not conclude without paying tribute to the great service that is given by the Turnbull Library, to Mr. Tony Murray-Oliver, I owe a great debt of gratitude for all his kindnesses over a period of years, few New Zealanders know of the valuable service available to them from this great institution. To the National Art Gallery in Wellington and to the Auckland City Art Gallery also I owe much, it is never too much trouble to answer the many enquiries that I have made. Again my thanks, without their research facilities I should have frequently been left in complete ignorance. We should be proud of the work being done so quietly by these several establishments.

73 Hardinge Rd.

Dear Mr. Vogtherr,

The members of the Collection Group of the H. B. Art gallery and Museum thank you sincerely for the loan of “Your Bid Sir”.

Many thanks

Yours sincerely
M. A. Higgins
Chairman of Collectors

Secretary –
Mrs E A Bourgeois 3A. Seapoint Rd. Napier

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