Monday, 25 June 2018

New Zealand Illustrated by E. Wakefield

Cover of New Zealand Illustrated
This book of sixteen chromolithographic views is more commonly known as "Potts and Willis", to distinguish it from the E . J . Wakefield work,  Illustrations to Adventure in New Zealand [The two Edward Wakefields were cousins.]

New Zealand Illustrated was issued in 1890, though the title page is dated 1889, and was thus the second major chromolithographic book to be printed in New Zealand (the first was Featon's Art Album of New Zealand Flora, 1889). The edition size is not known, though the book was sold at only one guinea a copy, which would seem to indicate a large printing: the book is today very scarce in its complete form. It was published by the well-known and important firm of A . D. Willis, Wanganui, which had been established by a printer who later extended his business by buying out the bookselling and stationery business of W. Hutchison.

Archibald Duddington Willis was born in England in 1842 and arrived in New Zealand in 1857. Trained as a commercial printer, his first business venture in New Zealand was the founding of the Hawkes Bay Herald immediately after his arrival. After the discovery of gold, he left to try his luck on the diggings, but had little success. He moved to Wanganui in 1867, where, in partnership with the Hon.  J. Ballance he managed the Wanganui Herald.

In public life, A. D. Willis became a member of the Borough Council, some-time Chairman of the Harbour Board, and was Member for Wanganui in the House of Representatives from 1893-1896.

Potts, William, 1859-1947. Potts, William 1859-1947 : City of Wellington, N.Z. 1885.
W. Potts, del. Wanganui; A.D. Willis [1885].. Ref: C-060-005.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23224811

The firm of A. D. Willis specialised in chromolithographic printing, particularly Christmas cards, booklets, and programmes, though it also had the distinction of being the only manufacturer of playing cards in the Southern Hemisphere. At the 1885 Wellington Industrial Exhibition A. D. Willis received the first prize and Silver Medal for chromolithographic printing. Dr T. M. Hocken, visiting Wanganui in April 1889 in connection with the organising of the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition, made a point of calling to see the printery, and "expressed himself both surprised and pleased . . . at the perfection of Mr Willis' plant and apparatus for lithographic printing." This may have been at the time New Zealand Illustrated was in production.

The man whose name is always associated with Willis, William Potts, was an English lithographer whom Willis brought to New Zealand about 1881, and who remained in his employ for almost twenty years. Known to his fellow workers as "Billy" Potts, he was a quiet and reserved bachelor who lived in a succession of lodgings, and took no part in community affairs. Some of the lithographic stones on which Potts worked for New Zealand Illustrated eventually became paving stones in his employer's garden. Potts lithographed one painting and the photographs of several artists for the views in New Zealand Illustrated, and brief biographical notes on these artists are given below.

The large folding plate of the Tarawera Eruption was taken from a painting by Charles Blomfield, who was a friend of A. D . Willis. Blomfield (1848-1926) had arrived in New Zealand in 1863. A self-taught artist, he painted directly from nature, but frequently made copies of his own work, and maintained himself as a professional painter by selling his works to tourists as souvenirs. Blomfield exhibited frequently throughout New Zealand, and also overseas: at the 1887 Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London he had the distinction of having every picture he entered sold.
Potts, William, 1859-1947. Willis, Archibald Duddington (Firm) :White Terrace, Rotomahana, N.Z.
W. Potts lith; C. Spencer, photo. Wanganui; A.D. Willis [1889].
Ref: B-080-015-a. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23197732

Samuel Carnell
, b.1832, trained as a mechanic in a lace factory, but turned his attention to photography. He came to Auckland in 1862, and worked for Crombie and Webster, photographers. Tempted by the goldfields, he set up small photographic businesses in Hokitika and in Nelson, where he remained only six months before returning to Auckland, which he left for Napier in 1869. His business there prospered, and he settled and became active in community affairs until his retirement in 1905. He was the Member for Napier in the House of Representatives from 1893-1896, and was Mayor of Napier in 1904.

Wrigglesworth and Binns was begun in 1863 by J. D. Wrigglesworth, who took in F. C. Binns as partner in 1874. Their photographic business specialised in portraiture, and they patented their own method of photo finishing. Two First Awards for Photography were won by the firm in 1879 at the Sydney Exhibition and 1881 in Melbourne, and at the 1885 New Zealand Exhibition in Wellington they won the only award made for portraiture.

William Andrews Collis was born in Suva in 1853, and was brought as an infant to Auckland. Educated at the Wesley College, he moved with his family to New Plymouth in 1872, and three years later set up in business as a photographer. Within seven years he had built his own studios, which specialised in portraiture and landscape photography.

William Tyree was also a photographer, who established his business in Nelson in 1878. His photographic collection which is a most valuable record of the development of Nelson city and province, is now in the Alexander Turnbull Library.

James Ring, a Londoner, had trained as an artist and had spent some time in Boston before coming to New Zealand in 1879. He had hoped to settle in Wellington, but ill-health drove him to Greymouth, where he established a successful photographic business in 1880.

John Robert Hanna was an Irish photographer who arrived in New Zealand in 1867. He began in the employ of R. H. Bartlett of Auckland, but soon established the firm of Hemus and Hanna, of which he was manager. This partnership was dissolved in 1885, and Hanna took over the business of Crombie. He won several prizes for photography in Wellington and London.

New Zealand Illustrated was reproduced in facsimile in an edition of 1000 copies by the Salem Publishing Company, Wellington, in 1967 and several plates were also reproduced by Avon Fine Prints during the 1970s so it can sometimes be hard to tell if a second hand print at auction is a genuine antique print from 1890 or a later reproduction.

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