New Zealand Special Collections

Posted on June 13, 2014 | in Collections, CRC, Featured, Library, Library & University Collections | by

The New Zealand House Special Collection has now been fully catalogued by our Cataloguing Interns. It contains over 200 fascinating and rare items, dating from 1773 onwards.  These books come from the larger New Zealand Collection which is distributed through the general collections. DSCN3471s

The Frank H. Taylor collection forms a large part of the rare material from New Zealand House, usually indicated by his own illustrated book plate or a special bookplate from the New Zealand House library.  He was born c. 1885 in London, and was educated at public school until the age of fifteen when he ran away to New Zealand and began work for a farmer in 1901.  In New Zealand he ultimately entered the dairy trade, and in 1930 he returned to London and was appointed inspector of dairy produce in the port of London for the New Zealand government.

For over 20 years he lived and worked in the city, collecting books, taking photos of his life and travels, and presenting lectures. Taylor’s 8,000 books were stored in London in bookcases in his main flat and in his overflow storage room where commercial butter boxes were stacked sideways to create shelves.  Shortly after his retirement in the early 1950s, Taylor made his final trip to New Zealand and never returned to Britain and his books became part of the New Zealand House Collection.

DSCN3462sThese include many books relating to immigrants newly settled in New Zealand: such as guides for emigrating, accounts from missionaries and their work and interactions with local populations, especially the Maori. There are several books relating to Maori culture, including tattooing, mythology, art and language, as well as bilingual books in Maori and English. Some of these wonderful works contain descriptions of New Zealand, including several versions of Captain Cook’s voyage round the world, including one published in Dublin in 1773. Natural history also features strongly including paintings of flora and fauna, such as Buller’s amazing birds.

In a 1949 lecture he described New Zealand as, “a land of contrasts, where flowers grow naturally in profusion and the roadside looks like a garden. Or it may be the reverse and, windswept and hungry, in it you may travel the long, lonely road where for miles you journey without seeing anyone”.  This appreciation of the intensity and diversity of the islands is reflected in his book collection that is now part of Edinburgh University Library.

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