Rare book a purr-fect find for Al­ber­ton

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Lisa Har­ri­son

Ev­ery item at his­toric Al­ber­ton is doc­u­mented and ac­counted for.

So when man­ager Ren­dell McIn­tosh dis­cov­ered a book in a desk drawer once used by Al­lan Kerr Tay­lor, he was blown away.

The small, leather-bound book is ti­tled The Nat­u­ral His­tory of The Fe­line and was pub­lished in 1834.

It in­cludes text and sketches of lions and tigers and a cer­tifi­cate awarded to Al­lan while he was at school by his writ­ing mas­ter Mr Cooper.

Mr McIn­tosh says all of the books at Al­ber­ton have ref­er­ence num­bers but there is no pre­vi­ous record of the book from the drawer.

He says it was won­der­ful to make the dis­cov­ery.

“Al­ber­ton is a large house, crammed with his­toric fur­ni­ture be­long­ing to the Kerr Tay­lor fam­ily who lived here so it’s not com­pletely sur­pris­ing that we dis­cov­ered this book lit­er­ally in a drawer,” he says.

“We have com­pre­hen­sive col­lec­tion records for the house, but for some rea­son this par­tic­u­lar book was not reg­is­tered as one of our archival items.”

Mr McIn­tosh dis­cov­ered the book when he was go­ing through a drawer in the desk.

He had not pre­vi­ously no­ticed the draw­ers and was amazed to find the book, as well as a hymn book from 1883 and a tele­phone book from 1944.

The fe­line book was likely given to Mr Kerr Tay­lor when he trav­elled from his birth­place in In­dia to Scot­land to fur­ther his ed­u­ca­tion in 1840.

Mr McIn­tosh says the book is valu­able be­cause there are very few items in the house from Mr Kerr Tay­lor’s time in In­dia or Scot­land.

“The fact that he brought the book out with him from Scot­land when he came to New Zealand in 1848 as a 16-year-old in­di­cates that it would have been one of his more trea­sured pos­ses­sions,” he says.

Mr McIn­tosh says the book has most likely been in the desk since the house was handed over to the His­toric Places Trust in 1973.

His­toric Places Trust spokesman John O’Hare says it is un­usual to find an item like the book in a his­toric build­ing be­cause all items are doc­u­mented in cat­a­logues.

“It’s cer­tainly a on­ce­in­find. It’s won­der­ful, par­tic­u­larly be­cause it re­lates to Al­lan Kerr Tay­lor’s ed­u­ca­tion.”

Mr McIn­tosh says find­ing the book also co­in­cides with the 35th an­niver­sary of Al­ber­ton be­ing open to the pub­lic.

For in­for­ma­tion, phone Al­ber­ton on 846-7367.

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