Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft Party starters

Monday, May 6th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian and Curator of Ephemera

There was never going to be a problem deciding which of Hocken’s amazing collections to use when it came to my turn for ‘Stirring up the stacks’ – it had to be Ephemera hands down! But the major dilemma was choosing from the hundreds of advertising flyers and leaflets in the collection featuring recipes.

I finally settled on a little recipe leaflet, dating to ca.1960s, promoting Bycroft cracker biscuits as “Party starters” that “set parties off with a bang!” In 1961 Bycroft merged with Aulsebrooks to become A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd manufacturing both biscuits and confectionery. Their product lines included Huntley Palmer biscuits, Mackintosh toffees and Oddfellows. Unfortunately big losses in the confectionery market led to the closure of their Dunedin factory in Maclaggan Street in 1976. In 1977, while the parent company continued to be A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd, their trading name changed to Aulsebrooks, and in 1978, a private Nelson based company, Moana Estates, made a successful partial takeover of the company.

 

Bycroft Party starters! Recipes. Bycroft, [1960s]. Ephemera Collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.)

My next big decision was which of the eighteen toppings and dips featured in the leaflet to make and test on Hocken staff, who include vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances. Eventually I concluded five spreads and one dip was the best way to ensure that there was at least something for everyone.

I decided against the Worcester spread and Gherkin scramble as being too last minute to make and the idea of flavoured scrambled egg was off-putting! The current exorbitant price of avocados made the Avocado dip off limits – I wonder how easy these were to find back in 1960s New Zealand? The liver paste, needed for the Liver and bacon spread, was unobtainable in 2019 and the Creamy cheese spread seemed too safe an option. So I settled on Minty spread; Ham and pineapple spread; Peel spread; Savoury egg spread; Crunchy spread; and Mushroom dip.

Some of the recipes specify which Bycroft cracker should be served with each dip – there were six pictured on the leaflet; but I selected a fairly similar range from today’s options at the supermarket, including rice crackers for the gluten intolerant and a new cracker chip that I thought would make a good dipper.

All the recipes were easy to make, although I had to make two servings of the Savoury egg spread to provide a similar amount to the others. Apart from the crunchy spread and finishing the Mushroom dip, all were assembled the night before which required one departure from the recipe – I was concerned the mint in the Minty spread might turn brown overnight so added a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Thanks to a previous Hocken staff member, Val Parata, I had a great set of authentic brown ramekins to serve the spreads in, and an old Christmas gift set of bread-themed spreaders seemed a fitting final touch.

Recipes

Minty spread

1 cup tinned green peas, well drained; 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint; ½ teaspoon salt; shake pepper

Mash peas until smooth. Blend in chopped mint, salt and pepper. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers, top with fresh mint sprig.

 

Ham and pineapple spread

2 slices cooked ham; 1/3 cup crushed, well-drained pineapple; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Trim fat from ham. Chop ham finely. Blend in pineapple, mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on Bycroft Savoury Crispbread, top with more chopped ham if liked.

 

Peel spread

¼ Cup finely chopped peel; ½ cup peanut butter; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; about 4 tablespoons opf cream

Place chopped peel in bowl. Blend in peanut butter and lemon juice. Stir in enough cream to make a spreading consistency. Spread on lightly buttered Bycroft Imperial Crackers. Decorate with more chopped peel if liked.

 

Savoury egg spread

1 hard boiled egg; 2 tablespoons butter; 1 tablespoon tomato sauce; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard; ½ teaspoon curry powder; 1 teaspoon sugar; 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Shell hard boiled egg while still hot. Mash well with butter. Blend in remaining ingredients. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers.

 

Crunchy spread

½ cup grated carrot; lemon juice; 1 stick celery; ½ cup roasted peanuts; ¼ teaspoon salt; shake pepper; 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Sprinkle carrot with a little lemon juice. Chop celery finely. Chop peanuts a little. Mix all ingredients together. Spread on lightly b uttered Bycroft Savoury Crispbread.

 

Mushroom dip

1 packet mushroom soup; 4 tablespoons ginger ale; 8 oz. reduced cream

Soak soup overnight in ginger ale. Next day add cream. Blend thoroughly and leave in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

 

Hocken staff were excited by the final array presented at morning tea time and eagerly tucked in. They were asked for feedback on their most and least favourite spreads, and overall the reaction was positive but, as can been seen in the photographs, “The most delicious spreads weren’t the most visually appealing though haha!”

Minty spread proved the most popular with seven votes and was described by one staff member as “unexpectedly good and refreshing”, but another rated it their least favourite saying “cold cooked peas reminded me of being made to finish my dinner as a child. It took so long the peas went cold.”

Savoury egg spread was the next most popular with a nostalgic taste that took one “back to Nana’s house”. Mushroom dip and Peel spread were third equal favourites: “LOVE the mushroom dip. Definitely making it at home to impress my vego friends, as nice alternative to onion dip”; “Peel – my favourite, interesting flavour combo that worked – mostly nuttiness coming through”.

Crunchy spread and Ham and pineapple spread were the least favourite overall, the latter for one staff member being “better than expected as I avoid Hawaiian pizza” but Chloe declared “Ham and pineapple for life!”

My own personal favourite was the mushroom dip: I was wary of the overnight ginger ale soaking of the mushroom soup mix but it was not noticeable in the eventual tasty product. But I think the Minty spread has star potential if the tinned peas were exchanged with fresher tasting frozen peas and some mashed feta was added for a delicious 2019 update.

Stirring up the stacks #3 was a fun trip back to the recent past that proved nostalgic (in a good way) for many Hocken staff, and the recipes were, as promised by the Bycroft leaflet, “Easy, economical, imaginative ways and means of getting the gathering going.”

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Stirring up the stacks #1: Variety salad in tomato aspic

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Kari Wilson-Allan, Collections Assistant, Archives

Food. We all need it, and many of us love it. We love to try new tastes, new textures, know what’s on trend and what’s on its way out. (Time to see yourself out, salted caramel?)

But what about the old food fads? Is there value in revisiting them? Have our palates shifted; can we stomach the ingredients?

‘Stirring up the stacks’ is a new and occasional blog series coming to you from the kitchens of the Hocken staff. By finding and preparing long-forgotten, curious, or delectable sounding recipes amongst our varied collections, we aim to entertain, inspire, delight or, perhaps, disgust, you with our concoctions.

So, let’s get into it!

I’ve been perpetually intrigued and grossed out by the concept of jelly salads since I first heard of them. Meat and/or veges, suspended in elaborately shaped goop, and usually photographed with the colour balance all out of whack. Images I’d seen tended to be American in origin, and seemed to date from the 1950s until maybe the 1970s. But meals of jelly had hit the culinary scene far earlier on, here in New Zealand and many other parts of the globe. Emeritus Professor Helen Leach, a well-known face in our reading room, had me nearly fall off my chair in surprise when I read in her 2008 book The pavlova story: a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history, that the first pavlova, dating from 1926, was in fact a layered jelly, with nary an egg white in sight! The Davis company cornered the market, from 1913 producing a gelatine that opened up options in the kitchen. Previously, dishes with gelatine had been the preserve of those with time, resources and great expertise.

Evidence indicates that the Davis company promoted their product vigorously. We hold eleven of the recipe books they published in New Zealand, ranging from 1926 through to the 1980s.

Desserts, salads and savoury dishes the Davis gelatine way (n.d.)

I browsed through a couple, and quickly realised I was going to need a recipe with an illustration to understand how exactly I was to construct my masterpiece. The book above proved to be a boon. Not only did it have a recipe I thought I might have some chance of executing, it was pictured in full colour on the rear cover. There’s no year of publication, but I suspect it is from the late 1950s or early 1960s – elements of it indicate that it predates decimal currency.

My choice of recipe, variety salad, requires me to to make tomato aspic too. For those not in the know, or who (like me) only associate the word aspic with cat food, an aspic is a savoury jelly, traditionally made with meat stock.

What better to do than put on some sixties pop and hit the kitchen?

Cutting my work out for me

You might notice I’ve got both gelatine (Davis brand, naturally), and agar agar powder.  Why’s that? I’m (probably foolishly) making two discrete aspics – one for the omnivores and one for the herbivores, of whom I’m one. Curiously, around a quarter of Hocken staff are vegetarian or vegan, and I want a good range of willing tasters  – as much as I’m leery  of trying it myself.

I’ll admit here I cheated a little. The day prior to cook day, I did a trial aspic, to get an idea of how it came together – had I converted pints to millilitres accurately? I also wanted to see if I could get the veges in the mould to behave as they should, to figure out how quickly the gelatine would set (the answer: forever), if there was enough liquid (there wasn’t – must double the mix come Show Day!) and if I could get it out of the mould. I’m an impatient one at the best of times, and tried too soon. The tomato aspic, freshly tipped out of its bowl, cleaved itself as if it were the Red Sea. Lesson learned. Well, maybe.

Chop chop!

Leach and others have pointed to the time-consuming nature of this type of dish as one reason why it eventually fell out of favour. I’m not surprised to read this: as I was wielding my knife I was feeling certain that, were I transported back to the the 1960s as a housewife, I would not fare well in the role. I’m realising nor will I ever be a Michelin-starred chef. I’ve diced my vegies, cooked my peas and rice (rice??), and juiced the lemon that’s not listed in the ingredients but features in the method. It’s a hot day, I’ve got my first aspic brewing, and I’m knackered.

Best to not think about being knackered when prepping gelatine…

Now things are getting tense. I have to pour a little aspic in my bowl, allow it to set a little, then artfully place my ‘garnish’ (slices of tomato and capsicum), then pour over a little more aspic.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien, as the French would say

Time for the fiddly bit, the bit everyone wanted to know about – how did I get the gherkins and carrots to stay put? It’s a game of dip the strip (in partially set aspic), stick the strip  (against the wall of the bowl at an angle), then repeat with the next.  The fun continues as you discover half are falling off, and the others aren’t doing so well at staying parallel. Come half time, your language is becoming as colourful as the salad itself.

Excuse my French

Finally, I’m reasonably satisfied with the alignment, and the rest is plain sailing. On top of the peas, I pile the seasoned rice and diced celery. I have surplus carrot and gherkin, so in they go too. Once I’ve poured over the aspic, I’ll be done. But do I mix the aspic through the ‘variety’ mix? The instructions don’t specify, and I’m not sure there will be adequate seepage through to lower layers to avoid a rice eruption when I unmould. I give it a desultory stir, then leave it as it is.

Come the big reveal, I’m nervous as. Will my salads unmould in one piece, and will anyone actually try any? It’s scary stuff.

Ta da! The agar agar version, still in its bowl on the left, pleads with gravity to help it along. Meanwhile, the gelatine has held its own.

To my great shock, both were persuaded fairly easily from their nests. The agar agar came out most cleanly, and had a beautiful sheen. It takes some time, though, to convince my workmates that they want to taste them.

The first cut is not for the squeamish

Archivist Tom eventually made the first move, and once he consumed a little and didn’t collapse, others tentatively followed suit. As we’ve learnt from reality cooking shows, nothing counts until the feedback is given. Tasters had the opportunity to submit their thoughts, anonymously or otherwise, and these, along with their facial expressions, gave me almost as much delight as the successful up-ending of my concoctions.

The aforementioned Tom declared it to be ‘very surprising, & unexpectedly good’. Jacinta, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori, found it ‘delightfully refreshing’. Another said ‘very tasty once you get past the texture’. Emma (Collections Assistant, Publications), had textural misgivings too, saying ‘it is like eating tomato sauce as the main meal’. Jennie, also from Publications, thought it ‘visually splendid’, but noted ‘I don’t trust food that wobbles’. Understandable – I have similar reservations.

Megan, a CA from Researcher Services deserves a special medal for summoning the courage to take the plunge, but said ‘I hope to never be that starving’. She was not a happy chappy. Others felt they’d been transported to the past – Archives Curator Anna said ‘just like Grandma used to make’. More than one staffer suggested the addition of vodka. Bloody Mary salad, anyone?

Publications Curator Pete summed it up for most of us though: ‘I can honestly say this is the best salad in aspic I have ever tasted’. And what did I think? It was a fun culinary experiment I probably wouldn’t repeat (I chose not to finish my serving), but it was far less horrific than I had imagined.

Chaos out of order

General Assistant Nick takes the last word. He said ‘visually arresting, perfect for Christmas, delicious with Emerson’s Morning Star Pale Ale’. So, what are you waiting for – get it onto your menu for Christmas dinner. It’s sure to be a memorable dish.

Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Davis, Sir George Francis (1883-1947)

Leach, Helen. The Pavlova story : a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history. Dunedin, Otago University Press, 2008.

Serious Eats: A social history of Jell-o salad: The rise and fall of an American icon

 

Lel, Father Christmas, and ‘The Sun’s Babies’

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by David Murray, Archivist

One of the cutest Christmas messages in the Hocken Collections is found on a postcard in the papers of Dunedin poet and editor Charles Brasch.

The front of the postcard shows the picturesque St John’s Anglican Church, Waikouaiti. The message on the reverse reads:

Mr Father Christmas
D.I.C.
Dunedin.

Dec 3rd

Dear Farther Christmas.
please will you give me these things
the “Suns Babys” and a doll.
love from Lesley Brasch
adress is 99 London St.
Dunedin

Lesley Brasch, known in her family as ‘Lel’, was Charles’s younger sister. Their father was the lawyer Hyam Brasch, and their mother Helene (née Fels) was related to the Hallensteins, a prominent Jewish family associated with the New Zealand Clothing Company and other businesses.

Born in 1911, Lel lived with her parents and brother at ‘Bankton’. Originally the home of Rev. Thomas Burns, and later of Sir Robert Stout, its address was 99 London Street when the postcard was used. The property was later subdivided and other houses have since been built in front of it. Its address is now 4 Stoutgate.

Lesley with her brother Charles at ‘Manono’, London Street, the property of their grandparents, Willi and Sara Fels. Bankton was a little further up the street, on the opposite side. E.A. Phillips photographer. Ref: Hocken Collections MS-0996-012/100.

We don’t know what year Lel wrote her request, but it was when she was a little girl in the 1910s.  She addressed it to Father Christmas at the D.I.C., or to give it its complete mouthful of a name, the Drapery and General Importing Company of New Zealand Limited. Her own great-grandfather, Bendix Hallenstein, established the business some thirty years or so before.

The Dunedin department store was a logical place to send a message to the jolly red-suited man. From 1902 children could visit him every afternoon before Christmas, and in the 1910s the company advertised: ‘Father Christmas is at Home at the D.I.C.’. In 1917, the store advertised ’20 big busy departments full of Xmas gifts’, and a Toyland for Children. It invited parents to bring their children to see Father Christmas in his quaint old chimney corner. Admission was sixpence and children were given a present. Seventy years later children still visited the D.I.C. to see Santa. Its later attractions included Pixie Town, now on display at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum. The D.I.C.’s Dunedin store closed in 1991, after the company was taken over by Arthur Barnett.

Advertisement from the Otago Daily Times, 15 December 1917 p.2. Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand: https://goo.gl/nCBBvo.

Lel asked Father Christmas for a popular and particularly beautiful children’s book, The Sun’s Babies by Edith Howes. Even at a young age the Braschs were supporting New Zealand writers! Born in London in 1872, Howes came to New Zealand with her family when still an infant, and became known as a teacher, writer, and educationalist. She lived in a variety of places around the country, including Ashburton, Wanganui, Makarewa, Gore, Wellington, and Christchurch. In later life she lived in Dunedin, where she died in 1954.

The Sun’s Babies, published in 1910, is set in a mythical fairy world. It includes stories and poems about plants, animals and fairies in the different seasons of the year, incorporating life lessons. The first of Howes’s children’s books, it met with both critical acclaim and popular success. Hocken holds three editions of the book, including Cassell & Co’s original 1910 edition and the 1913 edition shown here. The illustrations are by the English artist Frank Watkins (1863-1929).

Howes, Edith. The Sun’s Babies. London: Cassell and Company, 1913. Hocken Publications, Bliss YO How.s.

Illustration by Frank Watkins from The Sun’s Babies. The caption reads: ‘When she saw Tinyboy she hid her face shyly in her curls’.

Did Lesley get her book and doll? We don’t know but like to think so. Perhaps the answer awaits discovery in the Brasch papers,

There are thousands of postcards in the papers and they are less studied than many other parts of the collection. This particular card can be found in the item: ‘Envelope labelled “Loose postcards” including postcards from family and de Beer, Fels, Hallenstein and Brasch families’ (Charles Brasch papers, Hocken Archives, Uare Taoka o Hākena, MS-0996-012/521).

Merry Christmas from the Hocken Collections.

 

‘You guys play like a punk band’: The Graeme Downes collection of live Verlaines performances

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Curator Music and Audiovisual Collections

The Verlaines have been a keystone band in the Dunedin music scene since their inception in 1980, and fully-fledged beginnings in 1981, when they were found regularly playing gigs in Dunedin’s Empire Tavern’s third floor concert venue. The band has undergone a number of lineup changes over nearly four decades, but the members pivot around songwriter and vocalist/guitarist Dr Graeme Downes, who has been the constant band member since the beginning. The first 15 years of The Verlaines in particular was a productive time for the band, when their sound was developing, and they released some of their most well-known recordings: the songs Death and the Maiden, Crisis after Crisis, and Pyromaniac and albums ‘Hallelujah all the way home’, ‘Bird Dog’, ‘Some Disenchanted Evening’, and ‘Ready to Fly’.

This particularly fertile time is documented in a collection of 33 performances on cassette tapes that Graeme Downes has deposited with Hocken’s music collections. The performances date back to 1981 with a cassette titled ‘Live at Duke Street’ and continue throughout the 1980s, capturing the band in the first decade of their career in exotic locales such as CBGB’s Nightclub in New York, and (arguably) less glamorous settings like Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. This collection of performances documents the band as they develop as performers, and Downes, as he develops as a vocalist and songwriter, imbuing his songs with increasingly sophisticated and complex structures and ‘musical tricks’ – no doubt reflecting his own study in classical music at the University of Otago. The live performances also capture the changing line-ups of The Verlaines, whose sound modifies slightly with each iteration of the band. The earliest cassettes document the initial line-ups (possibly with Downes, Anita Pillai on keys, Craig Easton on guitars and vocals, Philip Higham on bass, and either Paul Baird, Tim James, or Greg Cairns on drums). The band give it their all, and finding their way around Downes’ material which includes later Verlaines classics such as Slow Sad Love Song (the first song Downes ever wrote in 1980 as a response to a friend’s passing), and a faithful cover of Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale – one of the interesting oddities on the 1981 ‘Rehersals’ tape. By 1985-7, the line-up is one of the most well-known (Downes, Jane Dodd on bass, and Robbie Yeats on drums), and they have just released ‘Hallelujah all the way home’, and ‘Bird Dog’ to excellent press. They are hitting their stride in the live setting, and it shows.

 The Verlaines, It was Raining. Live at The Playroom, Christchurch, May 1987.

 

There are many highlights in this collection. One favourite performance is the band’s spirited take of Pyromaniac at Reckless Records in Chicago (date not recorded, but likely in the early 1990s). There is a punkish spontaneity to this entire show, and Downes’ vocals are spot-on, as is the band’s performance.) Another is possibly the only recorded instance of Graeme Downes performing with Straitjacket Fits, singing She Speeds at Chippendale House in July 1987 (Shayne Carter returns the favour by performing  The Verlaines’ You Cheat Yourself of Everything that Moves) before the Verlaines set for the evening. This is a particularly emotive performance, as it was Downes’ wedding reception! Yet another highlight is a Christmas 1990 show at the Savoy in Dunedin, where the show ends with a dynamic version of Lying in State, which was a popular show closer for the band. By this time the line-up had changed again: Jane Dodd and Robbie Yeats had departed, with replacements Steve Cournane (drums), and Mike Stoodley (bass) taking over their roles in the band – bringing a slightly different feel to the music. The collection stops around 1993, at a point when The Verlaines (now Downes, Darren Steadman on drums, Paul Winders on guitar and backing vocals, and Mike Stoodley on bass) are no longer with Flying Nun, but have signed to Slash Records, an LA-based independent record label. One of the later recordings of the band is an interview with KALX Radio in Berkeley (part of the University of California), where they discuss their (then) new album, ‘Way out Where’, and the band’s history so far. The interviewer discusses Downes’ songwriting, and compares his writing style to Cole Porter or George Gershwin, while stating that The Verlaines ‘play like a punk band most of the time,’ a statement that still applies to the band today.

The physical cassettes are still in good condition for items of between 30 and 40 years old, although the materials are ageing. They are kept in a temperature-controlled vault at Hocken Collections to mitigate any potential issues with magnetic formats (such as sticky shed syndrome). All of these recordings have been digitised to WAV files for access, as the age and fragility of the cassette tapes means further playback could damage them. For any access to this content, please contact the Music and Audiovisual Curator at Hocken Collections for further information.

A Fireside Family Favourite

Sunday, October 1st, 2017 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Blog post researched and written by Emma Scott, Hocken Collections Assistant.

V.1:no.1 (1898:January 1) page 1

Two weeks ago we were kindly donated “The Home Circle: an Instructive & Entertaining Magazine for the Family  & Fireside”. This was the first time any of the Publications Collections Assistants had seen this particular periodical before, so it was a very special discovery.

The Home Circle was published fortnightly in Oamaru and distributed throughout the Oamaru district. The first issue was published on January 1st 1898 and included an introduction explaining that the purpose of The Home Circle was to “help foster the home life” of it’s readers as they are “convinced that the home is the seat of national strength and vitality”. The Home Circle contains “articles on Social Questions, a Column for the Ladies, a Children’s Page, “Quaint Talks” by John Blunt, Short Stories (original and selected), Records of Local Doing, Notes and Comments on matters of passing interest”. The magazine was distributed gratis for the first three months it was published in the hope that readers would be interested enough to subscribe to it at the end of March. The publication must have continued, as we hold v.1:no.1 (1898:January 1) to v.2:no.8 (1899:April 27).

The “Ladies’ Column” features such topics as; personal appearance: “the untidy member of the family who utterly disregards her personal appearance is a great trial to her friends” (v.1:no.1 1898 January 1, page 8), how to keep children away from home: “when the children run in from outdoor play on little errands of their own, don’t fail to seize on any possible excuse for detaining them in the house” (v.1:no.20 1898 November 3, page 236), unattractive homes: “One often sees a man coming home tired and depressed from his day’s work, hoping to find a little comfort and cheering at home… When he is greeted instead with a dirty house and a cold hearth, or when a sudden fit of tidiness had prompted his wife to begin to scrub out rooms late in the afternoon, then he may feel strongly tempted to put on his hat again and take the shortest cut to the public-house” (v.2:no.6 1899 March 30, page 68) and what men like in women: “they like women whose lives and faces are always full of the sunshine of a contented mind and a cheerful disposition” (v.2:no.3 1899 February 9, page 32).

V.1:no.20 (1898:November 3) page 236

“Quaint talks by John Blunt” is another regular column with the subtitle: “A plain blunt man, I only speak right on; I tell you that which you yourselves do know”. John Blunt is a “straight forward sort of chap” who “calls a spade a spade”. Some of his musings include: “I would not give a fig for a man who is not punctual to his engagements, and who never makes up his mind to a certain course till the opportunity is lost. Those who hang back, hesitate, and tremble, – who never are on hand for a journey, a trade, a sweetheart, or anything else are poor sloths” (v.1:no.7 1898 April 28, page 79).

The “Bits of Humour” section on the back page includes jokes very reminiscent of the jokes contained in Christmas crackers, and just like on Christmas day, you can easily picture a family reading them out at the dinner table. One part of the humour column which caught my eye is called “An Interesting Love-Letter”, see attached image:

V.1:no.9 (1898:May 26) page 108

Local news and advertisements are scattered throughout the journal, including advertisements for W M’Donald on Exe Street (for dyes and woollen wearing apparel), B Mollison & Co. on Thames St (for boots and shoes), C. Martin on Thames St (photographer) and J.H. Cunningham on Tyne Street (for plain and ornamental printing).

 V.1:no.1 (1898 January 1) page 12

If you are interested in looking at the Home Circle or any of our other fascinating publications, archives or pictorial collections come along to the Hocken Collections! We are open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.

The APRA Silver Scroll collection

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post written by Amanda Mills, Hocken Liaison Librarian, Curator Music and AV

September is the month of the APRA (Australasian Performing Rights Association) Silver Scroll Awards, an event celebrating New Zealand songwriters and composers. A number of awards are presented during this ceremony: the prestigious Silver Scroll award, recognising “outstanding achievement in the craft of songwriting,” the SOUNZ contemporary award recognising “creativity and inspiration in composition by a New Zealander,” and the APRA Maioha Award which “celebrates excellence in popular Māori composition, to inspire Māori composers to explore and express their culture and to increase awareness of waiata in te reo Māori throughout Aotearoa.” Also presented are the APRA Screen Music Awards – the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film and APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award, both of which celebrate New Zealand’s screen composers.

In 2017, the APRA Silver Scroll Awards are being held in Dunedin on September 28th – a first for the city – and it is shaping up to be a Dunedin-centric awards ceremony. According to the APRA website, Dunedin has more songwriters per capita than anywhere else in New Zealand, and this year Port-Chalmers based singer-songwriter Nadia Reid, is nominated for her song ‘Richard’. As the Silver Scroll Award itself is to celebrate songwriting, the nominated songs are performed not by their writers and composers, but by other musicians in a different style to illustrate how a song stands on its own merits, regardless of genre. A musical curator selects the artists to perform the tracks, and for the 2017 Awards, Dunedin’s own Shayne Carter (DoubleHappys, Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer) will be undertaking this role. Another link between the awards and our Southern city are the 2017 inductees to the NZ Hall of Fame: The Clean (including founding member Peter Gutteridge), whose contribution to local music history can never be understated.

Hocken’s own music collections have a connection to the Silver Scroll Awards – 190 45rpm discs of Silver Scroll nominated (and winning) songs from between 1965 and 1976 were donated in 1977. These songs represent the eclectic nature of songwriting from the time, with tracks from Blerta, The Maori Volcanics, John Hanlon, Steve Allen, Rockinghorse, Shona Laing, Ray Columbus, The Fourmyula, and Maria Dallas included in the nominations, along with Jay Epae, Lutha, The Moving Folk, (the wonderfully named) The Village Gossip  and Garner Wayne and his Saddle Pals. Accompanying lists of the nominated songs (also provided from APRA) give an indication of how many songs were nominated each year, and are a great resource for researchers looking at New Zealand popular music of the mid twentieth century.  Our wider music collections also include Silver Scroll nominated material from this period and later on 45rpm disc, CD and cassette, including Lea Maalfrid’s 1977 winning song ‘Lavender Mountain’ – the first Silver Scroll Award ever presented to a female songwriter. However, the core APRA collection brings together these nominated songs as a group to represent a time capsule of material nominated for the Silver Scroll.

The song digitised here is by The Blue Stars (later The Bluestars), an Auckland group that began in the early 1960s during the band members’ time at Auckland Grammar. In 1966, they released ‘Please Be A Little Kind’ b/w ‘I Can Take It,’ a record that charted at no. 12, and gained radio airplay. The Blue Stars disbanded the following year, but ‘Please Be A Little Kind’ has kept the band firmly in New Zealand music history due to the song’s nomination for a Silver Scroll.

Below is the 1965 list of Silver Scroll nominees, which features some familiar names like Garner Wayne, Peter Posa, and Ray Colombus – names that reappear frequently in the nomination lists, and in the music charts.

Good luck to all this year’s award nominees!

Amanda Mills

References:

APRA Mohoia Award http://apraamcos.co.nz/awards/awards/silver-scroll-awards/apra-maioha-award/

APRA Silver Scroll Award http://apraamcos.co.nz/awards/awards/silver-scroll-awards/apra-silver-scroll/

SOUNZ Contemporary Award http://apraamcos.co.nz/awards/awards/silver-scroll-awards/

 

 

 

Clubs and Socs

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2017 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Emma Scott, Collections Assistant – Publications

Are you a machine knitter, cat fancier, Ruritanian folk dancer, Chrysler restorer, lace maker, ship wreck welfare specialist or antique bottle collector? If so, then you will be interested in some of the  approximately 3145 club and society periodicals located in the Hocken Journals collection. We hold many different types of publications produced by clubs and societies including; meeting minutes, newsletters, rule books, annual reports and accounts. These periodicals come from all over New Zealand, the Pacific and Antarctica and cover a broad range of topics.

Similar to the zines in our journals collection, some of these periodicals are handwritten or were typed using a typewriter and many of the illustrations within them were created by club or society members. They can vary in size and are often missing date information which means that our Collection Assistants sometimes have to read through the entirety of the periodical to try and determine the date of each issue.

The content of the newsletters can provide the reader with a wealth of information about club issues and what activities the club is involved in, for example; in Tabletalk (the Otago Bridge Club newsletter) for 1979 May 10, the editor reminds the bridge players to stop post-morteming their game when moving to a new table and to acknowledge other bridge players as there has been an “epidemic of rudeness” in the club recently, and tucked away within the Joint Newsletter for the Central Otago Farm Forestry and Tree Crops Association there is a multi choice form that was used when a member found a good hazelnut or walnut tree. Upon discovery of the tree they were to provide the branch registrar with a 2kg sample of nuts and indicate on the form what percentage of nuts fall free of husks, how many kilograms of nuts the tree produces annually and what evidence of lemon stem borer, bug mites or mineral deficiency they had found on the tree. The nuts were also observed by the registrar, with the registrar recording their observations of the nut’s shell colour, blemishes, shape, size, thickness and kernal details on the other side of the form.

These club and society periodicals were often used to further educate members about their topic of interest, this is evident in the herb society newsletters which contain recipes using the herb of choice for that newsletter as well as informative articles about the chosen herb. Issue 154 (2009:Autumn) of “The Bay Tree” (the Kapiti Herb Society Newsletter) focuses on Lemon Verbena with tips on cultivation and recipes for Lemon Verbena liqueur and syrup which the newsletter states can be used with ice cream, pound cake or other light desserts. We have a strong collection of herb society newsletters, which includes the following titles: Thyme Out (Upper Clutha), Bouquet of Herbs (Auckland), The Sage (Waihi), Chamomile (Wairarapa), Herbs a Plenty (Tauranga) and Simple Pleasures (Otago).

Running a club or society is a labour of love as it is often time consuming and costly. For this reason, we are receiving less and less club and society publications. We are also contacted regularly by groups who have decided to produce their publications in an electronic format instead of print due to the cost of producing and distributing their publications to members.

This collection demonstrates that for any hobby or interest you may have, no matter how specialised, you will be able to find other like minded individuals that are just as passionate as you are. If you are involved in a club or society, please think of the Hocken Collections as a place to donate your publications to as we would love to continue adding material to this incredible collection.

 

References

Central Otago Farm Forestry Association and Central Otago Tree Crops Association. (1984) Joint newsletter.

Kapiti Herb Society. (2009). The bay tree: Kapiti Herb Society Newsletter, (154), 5-8.

Otago Bridge Club. (1979). Tabletalk, (8), 1.

 

Titles featured in the top image:

The New Zealand Society of Dowsing & Radionics – v.32:no.3 (2009:Sept.)

Rare Breeds Newz – no.118 (2017:Aug.)

Official Newsletter of the Canterbury Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club Inc. – issue no.4 ([1977:Jan.?])

The sweat-rag (Hill City Dunedin Athletic Club Inc.) – Issue no.4 (2012:Winter)

The Sherlock Holmes Club of Dunedin newsletter – no.1/99 (1999:Sept.)

Norfolk and Pitcairn Islands Friendship Club (N.Z.) Inc [newsletter] – issue no.1 (1994:Feb./Mar.)

Tabletalk (Otago Bridge Club) – no.8 (1979:May10)

NZ Micro: Official Publication of the N.Z. Microcomputer Club Inc. – no.44 (1986:Apr.)

Saints alive!: Official Journal of the Saint Bernard Club Inc. – 1984:Nov.

Ruritanian Roundabout: newsletter of the Ruritanian International Folk Dance Club Inc. and Associated Groups – 2015:May

Newsletter (New Zealand Machine Knitters Society) – v.36:issue 4 (2013:May)

Annual Championship Cat Show / Otago Cat Fanciers’ Club – 1963:June29

Humber torque: monthly magazine of the Humber Car Club of N.Z. incorporating Hillman Car Club of N.Z. – 2017:July/Aug.

Whangarei Deep Sea Anglers’ Club – 1962:Dec.

The Otago Commodore 64 Club Official News letter – 1991:Mar.

The bay tree: Kapiti Herb Society Newsletter – issue 154 (2009:Autumn)

Girl: you look beautiful / WGTN School’s Feminist Club presents… – v.1 ([2015?])

Xpressway: Records of a Dunedin independent record label (1988-1993). Hocken Archives, 94-156.

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 | Anna Blackman | 2 Comments

To celebrate Music Month in 2017, here’s a brief look at a collection of papers relating to a local Dunedin label.

Post by Amanda Mills, Hocken Liaison Librarian, Curator Music and AV

Various Xpressway tapes. Hocken Music and AV collections

Xpressway Records began life as a cassette-only label in late 1987/early 1988, run out of Bruce Russell‘s home in Port Chalmers. Russell – archivist, writer, musician (in A Handful of Dust, and The Dead C) – began Xpressway Records with help from fellow musicians Peter Gutteridge, Alastair Galbraith and Peter Jefferies following Flying Nun’s 50% acquired by Mushroom Records. Russell worked for Flying Nun in their Christchurch offices for a time in the 1980s, and saw the label was moving away from its original ideals with the merger. The acquisition by a major label meant attention was focused on more commercial Flying Nun acts, and many were let go from the label.

Russell was disillusioned by these decisions, and when artists like Jefferies and Galbraith were released from their Flying Nun contracts, he decided to in his words “show [Flying Nun] a thing or two,” as their music was just as valuable as the label’s more commercial counterparts. To give these artists and their music a home, he began Xpressway Records. In Russell’s opinion, “we should make the music available to those people that want to hear it, and if those people are a scattering of people all over the world in tiny niches within other national markets … fine… it’s just what we’ve got to do” (Russell, 2000).

Various official Xpressway releases. Hocken Music and AV collections

Xpressway started as a cassette-only record label, but expanded to include vinyl and CD releases. Overall, there were over 20 Xpressway releases, with other recordings licensed from the label. Artists on the label included

  • Peter Jefferies
  • Sferic Experiment
  • The Terminals
  • Alastair Galbraith
  • Victor Dimisich Band
  • Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos
  • Peter Gutteridge

As well as these artists with material licensed from Xpressway to other labels

  • DoubleHappys
  • Sandra Bell

Mock-up of the back cover of the Terminals’ single Do the Void. Xpressway: Records of a Dunedin independent record label (1988-1993). Hocken Archives, 94-156

In 1993, Russell wrapped up the label, and, in 1994, gave Hocken the Xpressway archives. Russell also included other items in the donation: over 100 posters of local artists, and over 50 cassettes of live recordings of acts associated (mostly) with Flying Nun or Xpressway.

Xpressway Pile-Up press release and cassette cover. Xpressway: Records of a Dunedin independent record label (1988-1993). Hocken Archives, 94-156

The archival papers are rich in content, and include

  • Media files, drafts and correspondence
  • Newsletters
  • Financial records including receipt books and IRD records
  • Artist release files and profiles
  • Xpressway album release files
  • Correspondence with artists, other record labels and distributors
  • Mail order correspondence, both national and international

Mail-order Correspondence. Xpressway: Records of a Dunedin independent record label (1988-1993). Hocken Archives, 94-156

Correspondence between Russell and musicians reveals the frustrations, irritants, and (in some cases) jealousies between different parties. While this is in the guise of official correspondence between artist and the label, it is often personal in nature reflecting the close knit nature of the Xpressway music community. It is also interesting to note that hand-written, typed, or faxed messages are on any blank surface: the backs of photographs, envelopes, flyers, aerograms (remember those?), newsletters from Russell’s’ place of employment – it is all used.

Correspondence between Flying Nun and Xpressway Records. Xpressway: Records of a Dunedin independent record label (1988-1993). Hocken Archives, 94-156

Much interesting material is contained in the folder relating to Flying Nun, with business correspondence again revealing the frustrations and everyday realities of supply and distribution between labels, especially those relating to finances. The letters and faxes between Russell and Flying Nun staff running the label day-to-day in Auckland are friendly and informal; they relate personal and industry stories and reveal common frustrations with business, distribution, and (quite often), the musicians. Other folders also contain interesting – and often hilarious – exchanges between the label and correspondent.

‘Look Blue Go Purple + W.S.S.O.E.S’ poster. Hocken Posters collection.

Along with the papers are the posters and cassettes that Russell donated. The posters relate to gigs and album releases, and highlight local bands and artists (many on or associated with Xpressway), and many are hard to find. The tapes capture mostly live performances and some radio shows by local artists, but also artists from around New Zealand, in many different venues around the country. Some are recording sessions, or demos of material that may not have been released, and we are aware that these are possibly the master tapes for a number of recordings.

Various Xpressway tapes. Hocken Music and AV collections

Complementing the Xpressway papers, the Hocken also holds copies of officially released music from Xpressway:

  • Compilations Xpressway Pileup, Killing Capitalism with Kindness, and Making Loser’s Happy
  • Peter Gutteridge’s Pure
  • Peter Jeffries’ Last Great Challenge in a Dull World,
  • Plagal Grind’s self-titled EP,
  • Albums and singles by Alastair Galbraith

Hocken has also recently acquired the Xway Vision VHS video of Xpressway (and associated labels) musicians performing in 1991.

The Xpressway papers and recordings are used by students and other researchers, with material frequently published on the artists, the label, and the wider scene. The popularity of the label, and the music that emerged from it will only increase the intrinsic value of this collection. The Xpressway papers (and associated recordings) are a fascinating look at how an independent record label is run in a small music community, where artists often performed in each other’s bands, or on each other’s recordings.

References:

Williams, M. (2000). Magic Kiwis – Bruce Russell. Perfect Sound Forever. March. Retrieved from http://www.furious.com/perfect/deadc.html

 

Musos, anarchists, poets, feminists, artists and activists: a look at the Hocken zines collection

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post by Emma Scott, Library Assistant – Periodicals

Tucked away within our publications collection are approximately 149 zines spanning from the 1970s to the present day. For those of you who haven’t come across a zine before, zines are self published publications that are on a variety of different topics. Many of the zines in our collection were created by cutting and pasting text, images, photographs and drawings and sticking them on master sheets which are then photocopied and put together as a zine. Creating a zine is a labour of love as they take a substantial amount of time and effort to produce and the funds involved in the making of a zine are seldom recuperated.

Caveat Emptor An Anarchist Fanzine issue 2 (1998) pages 5-6

Caveat Emptor An Anarchist Fanzine issue 2 (1998) pages 5-6

Looking through the list of zines in our collection it is surprising to discover just how varied zines can be. The zines most people are familiar with are the punk rock and rock music zines. While we do have plenty of those, we also have zines on many other subjects including: feminism, government resistance, art, death, horror tales, poetry, science fiction poetry, erotic poetry, sexual harassment of women, anarchism, human rights, paper dolls, New Zealand literature, colonisation and politics just to name a few. Some zines cover multiple topics as they have many contributors.

PMt issue 2 ([1986]) cover

PMt issue 2 ([1986]) cover

Zines can be difficult to catalogue as they are often missing title and date information. Zines also differ greatly in size and format, becoming an artwork in themselves. Fortunately we are able to call upon the services of the University of Otago Library Bindery who can create customised acid free enclosures for these items.

A zine a day as winter goes away covers of 2011 July 3, 7, 10 and 20

A zine a day as winter goes away covers of 2011 July 3, 7, 10 and 20

With May being New Zealand Music Month, it is worth bringing attention to an excellent zine in our collection called Ha Ha Ha: from the city that offers nothing. Ha Ha Ha is a Hamilton music zine that started in 1983, it isn’t focused entirely on Hamilton music, it includes information about bands from all over New Zealand. Issue no.5  features an interview with Bruce Russell from the Dunedin Expressway label called “Expressway to your skull” and includes reviews of Vehicle – The Clean, Sour – S.P.U.D. and Bunny liver – Sferic Experiment all of which we hold in our music collection. If you are a punk fan issue 4 might interest you with an article on New Zealand punk from 1977 – 1982 which includes a list of albums and singles worth listening to and a brief description of each band mentioned.

Ha Ha Ha issue no.5 cover

Ha Ha Ha issue no.5 cover

Another New Zealand zine of particular interest is : Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People by Bryce Galloway.  Issue no.15,  The Fear of Fatherhood Issue is an excellent read as Bryce recounts his experience of the ante-natal classes that he is attending with his “de-facto wife”. He prepares his readers for the change of tone: “If you’re a regular visitor to Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, you will have noticed by now, the consolidation of an autobiographical style. So, babies. This is the big thing in my life at present, so I gotta go there, as unhip as that makes me”. His writing is honest and refreshing as he describes a class where the midwife is describing the birthing process: “Images less sterile than statistical data are crowding my head, I fold my arms, I cross my legs. I think about fainting and I’m not sure whether it is because I believe I’m prone, or because I truly am being overcome by these sideways images of birthing”.

Incredibly hot sex with hideous people no.15 (2003 Spring) cover

Incredibly hot sex with hideous people no.15 (2003 Spring) cover

By being self published, zines provide us with uncensored and often quite personal insights into peoples experiences, events, and lifestyles. All of us have something that we are interested in and or are passionate about, but not all of us go to the effort of creating our own publication. We hope that zines continue to be created as they provide us with invaluable information about the history and culture of this country.

If you are interested in finding out more about New Zealand zines, it is well worth checking out an excellent blog called the New Zealand Zine Review:  http://www.newzealandzinereview.org.nz/. Some of the zines featured in the blog are held in our collection if you would like to have a look at them in the flesh.

Do you create a zine yourself, or perhaps you have a zine you would like to donate? In which case we would love to hear from you as we are always interested in expanding our collection of zines. You can send us an email at serials.hocken@otago.ac.nz or phone us on 03 479 4372.

References:

AudioCulture – the noisy library of NZ music. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://www.audioculture.co.nz/

Caveat Emptor: An Anarchist Fanzine, (2), 5-6. (1988)

Galloway, B. (2003). Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, (15), 1-18.

Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People – Bryce Galloway | Culture | Critic.co.nz. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://www.critic.co.nz/culture/article/1501/incredibly-hot-sex-with-hideous-people—bryce-gal

New Zealand Zine Review. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from http://www.newzealandzinereview.org.nz/

PMt, (2), 1-23. (1986?).

  1. (2011). ‘a Zine a Day as Winter Goes Away’

S, A. (n.d.). Ha Ha Ha: From the City That Offers Nothing, (4), 8-19.

S, A. (n.d.). Ha Ha Ha: From the City That Offers Nothing, (5), 9-12.

Zine. (n.d.). Retrieved May 02, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zine

Zines. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from http://www.wcl.govt.nz/popular/zines.html

 

Unforgettable. In every way.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 | Anna Blackman | No Comments

Post researched and written by Amanda Mills, Liaison Librarian – Music and Audio Visual

In Hocken’s 78rpm disc collection there is an anomaly: over 100 American pop standards by US artists. For a collection of New Zealand material, this is a significant exception to our collection development policy, and more than just an example of a popular genre. There is little to explain why these discs are in the music collection, but our records state they were donated by Mr Grant Fleury in the late 1990s, and were (according to staff recollection) part of an estate collection.

So, why would a collection of New Zealand material include these items? One potential reason for keeping these discs, is that they are all NZ pressings of international labels, including Columbia Records, Decca Records, His Masters Voice, and Capitol Records. However, there are between 50 and 100 of these recordings, so this collection is more than just an example of local label pressings. Some of the titles are jazz, pop, and rock’n’roll classics that shaped popular music in the 20th Century, coming at the end of the 78rpm era. Titles include:

Ella Fitzgerald: Happy Talk. A track from the very popular musical “South Pacific”, Ella Fitzgerald recorded the song with Gordon Jenkins and his orchestra in 1950, and this led to them recording an album soon after.

photo 2 78

Fats Domino, Blueberry Hill

Fats Domino: Blueberry Hill and Ain’t That a Shame. Both are significant rock ‘n’ roll classics – Domino’s 1956 recording of Blueberry Hill became the standard version of the song, while his 1955 recording of Ain’t That a Shame gained US  fame after being re-recorded by Pat Boone. However, Domino’s version became more popular.

photo 1 78

Fats Domino, Ain’t That A Shame

Nat King Cole: Unforgettable b/w Mona Lisa. Unforgettable was recorded in 1951, with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, and with Riddle’s arrangement. Cole remade it in 1956, and it was remade again  in the 1990s as a beyond-the-grave duet with his daughter Natalie. It is backed with an equally popular song, Mona Lisa, which won the 1950 Academy Award for best original song from the film “Captain Carey.”

photo 3 78

Nat King Cole, Mona Lisa

Having these recordings in the collection presents a conundrum – are they a one off exception to the collection development policy of collecting material by New Zealand artists? Or, was there a valid reason for adding international music into the 78rpm disc collection, when there was no apparent local link in terms of composer, or performer?  They are an interesting addition to the collections of early popular music, and their influence is felt widely throughout local New Zealand music of the same time.