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Early Photographs of New Zealand in a charming Victorian young lady's album with a wealth of manuscript and printed material

NEW ZEALAND, 1860s. An album of early New Zealand photographs, watercolors, manuscript verse, and ephemera assembled by Miss Flaxman

New Zealand, 1866-1870

4to. Original red morocco gilt extra. 72 leaves. 21 albumen photographs, 3 of them CDVs, most of the others approx. 5 x 6 inches. 7 delicate watercolor and pencil landscapes and views of houses. Very good condition. See below for detailed inventory of contents.

This delightful photograph and autograph album chronicles the world of young Miss Flaxman in New Zealand in the 1860s. Albums and scrapbooks assembled by women in the Victorian era have come under increasing scholarly scrutiny for the insights they provide into women’s public and private lives and thoughts. This 1860s New Zealand album, with dozens of photographs, original watercolors, manuscript poems, and printed ephemera, is a rare survival and a valuable resource for women’s studies.

The album is highlighted by its splendid early New Zealand photographs. Three carte-de-visite photographs depict identified Maori: one is a portrait of two identified Maori women, the other two are of Paora Parau, a Maori chief from Poverty Bay who served in the native contingent of the military. The portrait of two Maori women has the backstamp of J. D. Wrigglesworth, Wellington.

The album also contains twelve photographs of towns, landscapes, and buildings, including views of the town of Nelson, Maitai Valley, Te Ore Ore in Wairapa, and a house in St. Kilda. Several photographs are by Burton Brothers, the leading New Zealand photographer of the day.

This charming album also contains six delicate watercolor landscapes and views of houses, presumably by Miss Flaxman, dozens of pieces of Victorian chromolithography, and numerous manuscript poems including a “Maori acrostic,” lines by Miss Flaxman’s friends, and poems by Poe, Browning, Tennyson, and others. Study of this album of photographs, manuscripts, drawings, and ephemera will yield valuable information of women’s lives in the 1860s. The album is especially noteworthy for its photographs. New Zealand photographs of this vintage, particularly portraits of identified Maori, are rare in the market.

Summary of contents. This finely bound album contains the following objects. Names, dates, and places are often provided in inscriptions and captions.

21 photographs, mainly landscapes, city views, and houses

7 watercolors and pencil drawings, mainly houses and landscapes

37 manuscript poems ranging from a stanza to three pages

2 handmade paper flowers, pressed

26 pieces of Victorian color lithograph ephemera

2 engravings

2 pages of autographs in rectangles drawn in the form of visiting cards

Provenance: Miss Flaxman, signed gift inscription to her dated 1867 (many of the photographs are inscribed and dated on the verso with the compliments of Capt. Underwood, her future husband); inscribed by Mrs. Underwood (“née Flaxman”) to her daughter and dated Bairnsdale, 1899.