Rare book a purr-fect find for Alberton
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.