… But most of all, it’s fashion!

Friday, March 24th, 2017 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Amanda Mills, Curator of Music and AV

It’s iD fashion week here in Dunedin, and an opportunity to highlight an interesting piece of fashion-related audiovisual material in Hocken’s collections. The song It’s Fashion by Jack Roberts and Ian Couldrey was created as the theme for Ross and Glendining’s  fashion show.

Credit It’s Fashion. 1961. Lyrics by Ian Couldrey, and music by Jack Roberts. Hocken Sound Recordings Rec-S 3362

The company Ross and Glendining (founded by John Ross and Robert Glendining) was established in Dunedin in 1862, when they bought a local Dunedin retail drapery business. Changing to an import and warehousing business within three years, they sold imported fashion goods, though some of the most popular goods sold included blankets, and hosiery. To create woollens, they built the Roslyn Woolen Mill in 1879 for production of consumables like yarn, blankets and flannels, and several years later, they introduced knitting machines to produce hosiery and clothing. While expanding their clothing manufacturing business throughout New Zealand, Dunedin was still their main centre, opening a clothing factory in 1883 to manufacture men’s and boy’s clothing (under the Roslyn label), a hat factory in 1901, and also manufacturing footwear  from 1908, and neckwear from 1957. The list of brands Ross and Glendining manufactured was large, and included Mayfair Shoes, Roslyn Blankets and Rugs, Osti Lingerie, Glenross Millinery, Aotea Knitting Wool, and Sacony Fashions.

Mimosa Lingerie.[1959]. Ross and Glendining: Records, Hocken Collections AG-512/066 S09-529g.

Originally a staid manufacturer of wool, and an importer of garments, Ross and Glendining did not enter the world of fashion until the late 1950s and “stunned trade buyers with an innovative fashion show in Auckland at which they displayed their latest… creations” (Jones, 2010, p. 341). The show (held at the Winter Garden of the Great Northern Hotel) ran for 106 minutes, and used a three-piece orchestra and 10 models (eight adults and two children). The idea for this show came from Ian Couldrey, the company’s sales controller, well known in national publicity circles (Jones, 2010, p 341). The show had three successful nights before moving on to Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin, and a film was made of the shows to feature in smaller centres. This was promised to be the first of many fashion events for the company.

Unfortunately, the motion picture of this 1960 show is not part of Hocken’s large collection of Ross and Glendining records; in fact, no copies seem to exist. This is a significant gap in the collection, and, if found, would be a fantastic addition to our records of the company.

It’s Fashion is stated as being written for Ross and Glendining’s 1961 fashion show, but the annual reports and records don’t document any event that year, so the date may have been incorrectly attributed – perhaps the song was written for the 1960 show. It’s Fashion was written  for the event by Roberts and Couldrey. The song is in the popular genre of the day – a charming piano-driven mid-tempo, melodic pop-ballad, sung in the style of Doris Day (sadly, there is no mention of the female vocalist’s name). The performance is sweet, and appropriate for the show, which while innovative at the time, would likely not be cutting-edge by today’s standards. Regardless, this lovely song is one of few recorded specifically for a fashion show and an interesting, and modern, approach for Ross and Glendining to take to advertise their fashion lines.

It’s Fashion.

 

References:

Jones, S.R.H. (2010). Doing well and doing good: Ross and Glendining Scottish enterprise in New Zealand. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Rope and more : Work completed on Donaghys collection

Monday, April 15th, 2013 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Among our largest collections of business archives are the records of rope makers Donaghys Industries, who began operations in Dunedin way back in 1876. They are still in this trade 136 years later, but have also widely diversified into the rural, industrial, marine and aquaculture markets. In the 1990s the company moved its head office to Christchurch but it maintains offices in Dunedin and Melbourne.

Hocken’s relationship with Donaghys goes back to the 1980s when we received most of the current collection. In 2010 staff were invited to the company’s Bradshaw Street premises where we collected further financial records, photographs, administrative files, photographs, ephemera, and other records, some dating back over a century. Arrangement and description work was completed in 2011, increasing the size of the collection by over 50 percent to 45 shelf metres (that’s 2,500 individual items). More recently, the entire collection was entered onto our Hakena archives and manuscripts catalogue which has made the collection much easier to search and access.

Shown here are some label illustrations (MS-3560/0560) and 1960s photographs taken by Campbell Studios in Dunedin (MS-3560/0633). Two show rope manufacture processes, an in one a worker can be seen in the famous 380-metre ‘rope walk’. Another shows a bale of rope bigger than a Mini.

We are delighted that Donaghys Industries have ensured the preservation of their historic records, and are always interested in hearing from other local businesses.

David Murray

 

 

Curious billhead #2 – Briscoes before the Briscoes lady

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

Watching TV’s ‘Briscoes Lady’ promoting another birthday sale, few would be aware that the birth of the Briscoes company dates to the eighteenth century.

It was probably William Briscoe who established the firm in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, sometime around 1750. One reference mentions a balance sheet dating from 1756 and another gives the establishment date as about 1768. In 1781 members of the Briscoe family signed a partnership agreement. Headquarters eventually moved to London, with branches established in the West Indies and South America. A Melbourne offshoot was established in about 1854, and New Zealand operations opened in Dunedin as Arthur Briscoe & Co. in 1863. In New Zealand the company operated primarily as wholesale ironmongers and hardware merchants, but with some retail trade.

Arthur Briscoe, one of the company partners in England, probably never visited New Zealand. The founding manager in Dunedin was Hugh MacNeil, who had begun his working life as an ironmonger in Glasgow before managing Briscoes in Melbourne. He became a partner in the firm in 1880 and gained managerial control of both the New Zealand and Australian operations.

Arthur Briscoe & Co billhead, from MS-0989/058

The lithographed billhead here, dated 14 July 1886, shows that different parts of the organisation were styled in different ways: Wm Briscoe & Son (Wolverhampton and London), Briscoe & Co. (Melbourne), Briscoe, Drysdale & Co. (Sydney), Briscoe Bros (Jamaica), and Arthur Briscoe & Co. (Dunedin). In the 1890s branches were established in Wellington and Auckland as Briscoe, MacNeil & Co.

The billhead features the company’s buildings on the corner of Princes and Jetty streets, which were designed by R.A. Lawson and opened in 1872.  An Otago Daily Times report from that year describes a company importing directly from Europe and America, with an average of 100 tonnes of goods unloaded at Port Chalmers every week. Stock included such diverse items as kitchen stoves, umbrella stands, lamps, and lawn mowers (‘a wonderful little machine of recent invention’).  Some goods, such as enamel kitchenware and cooking utensils, were similar to items sold in Briscoes stores today, but linen and soft furnishings have only become staples in recent decades. Much business was directed towards the building trade, and at a separate iron yard in Bond Street there was much in the way of iron bars, piping, and sheet iron, with a supply of up to 150 tonnes of nails in stock at any one time. The company also imported tea for many years.

Briscoes moved to new premises in Crawford Street in the 1900s and the old building was later occupied by T. & G. Life. They demolished it in the 1950s to put up the building now known as Upstart House. Briscoes’ head office moved from London to Melbourne in 1958, and then to New Zealand in 1970. The parent company was purchased by Merbank Corporation of Australia in 1973 and transformed from a wholesaler of imported goods to a general merchandise retailer. Briscoes Group Ltd was purchased by the R.A. Duke Trust (of New Zealand) in 1990 and became a public company in 2001. As of 2011 it has 54 Homeware stores and 32 Rebel Sport sporting goods stores throughout New Zealand.

Hocken holds some financial and other records of Briscoe & Co., 1865-1970, under the reference number MS-3300. The billhead is from the Preston family papers (MS-0989/058).

Blog post written by David Murray, Archivist (Arrangement and Description)

Curious letterheads and billheads #1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

Every now and then, often in an obscure part of the archives collections, I come across one of those ornate old letterheads or billheads so many businesses used to have. These often show the printers’ great artistry and skill, and intriguingly encapsulate the identities of businesses in a way that might now be considered to be branding.

Here’s one of my favourites. Dated 31 May 1898, it’s for W. Evans & Co. and depicts the mills which produced ‘Crown’ brand flour in Dunedin and ‘Atlas’ brand flour in Timaru. The design and engraving work by Dunedin firm Fergusson & Mitchell is elaborate. Sheaves of wheat curl around to form an imaginative border, and the perspectives of the buildings have a wonderful naivety to them. The address for telegrams is given (‘Evans’) and the Timaru mill has the easy-to-remember telephone number ‘5’. In front of the Dunedin building are horses and carts loaded with bags of flour. The Timaru mill was next to the railway line, so an engine and wagons can be seen.

These were roller mills, then a recent development in New Zealand, which used cylindrical rollers for grinding rather than traditional grindstones. Timaru’s Atlas mill, designed for Evans & Co. by Dunedin architect James Hislop, opened with this latest equipment in 1888. Dunedin’s Crown mill had been built for Anderson & Mowat in 1867 and converted to a roller mill for R. Anderson & Co. in 1891. Additions to the buildings at this time were also designed by Hislop. This mill was taken over by Evans & Co. in 1896. The managing director, William Evans, had begun his career in New Zealand as a storekeeper on the goldfields, having arrived from Victoria with the rush to Gabriel’s Gully in 1861.

Both mill buildings, although they no longer produce flour, remain prominent landmarks in Timaru and Dunedin.

Blog post prepared by David Murray, Assistant Archivist. Billhead found in Preston family papers (MS-0615/004).

Doing Well and Doing Good : Ross and Glendining : Scottish Enterprise in New Zealand

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 | Anna Blackman | 1 Comment

The Hocken Collections recently hosted a book launch for the long awaited (by Hocken staff anyway) book by Stephen Jones, Doing Well and Doing Good : Ross and Glendining: Scottish Enterprise in New Zealand, published by OU Press.

Steve has been a regular visitor to the Hocken through several “generations” of archivists and reference desk staff. For many years he made an annual pilgrimage to Dunedin from his Scottish home in Dundee to complete the next phase of research on the records of Ross and Glendining held in the Hocken Collections.  Tips on finding material in the collection and Steve’s interests in Ross and Glendining were passed on from archivist to archivist as it became known that exemplary service could result in a free lunch! Reams of photocopied pages were dispatched to Dundee, but they only seemed to encourage him to travel back to NZ with further questions to be answered by interrogation of the original records!
Business communications from an 1877 Ross and Glendining letterbook, the paper is translucent and thin as tissue and difficult to photocopy from.
We admired his passion for lists of obscurely written financial reports and the analysis of the business data he copied from the records and wondered what the result would be. My own interest in the progress of the project was further stimulated by attending an excellent presentation in the School of Business by Steve on his research findings. The quarterly financial reports had been analysed, the columns of handwritten numbers in pounds shilllings and pence totted up and made meaningful and Steve described the role of Ross and Glendining in the fabric of NZ life. I’m looking forward to reading the book and  reviews are very positive. The Hocken staff are really pleased to see the work finished and published but we will miss Steve and his visits.
A handwritten financial activity report for the six months prior to January 1894 from the Ross and Glendining archives. Stephen read hundreds of pages such as this during his research.