"My Dream Baby"
Numerous playthings rest in the nurseries, bedrooms and playrooms of NZHPT properties across New Zealand. They were the treasured friends of the little girls and boys who lived there and are still well loved by those who visit the propertes today.
Highwic, former home of the Buckland family, holds a significant collection of such toys and games and recently benefited from the donation of a number of dolls which had belonged to Ruth Waller (née Buckland, 1880-1959).
This doll with a bisque head, composite body and wearing a kimono was made by the German manufacturer Armand Marseille as part of the "My Dream Baby" series from the 1920s, which produced a number of babies of various ethnicities.
Mount Everest (game)
On 29 May 1953 New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, marking the first successful recorded ascent of the world’s highest mountain.
English game and toy manufacturer, Chad Valley, created this board game around the same time, inspiring budding young mountaineers throughout the world. The colourful board starts the game at Base Camp, passes through ravines, past glaciers and finishes at the summit.
Space game! Made in Germany by F Ad Richter some time after 1869, this Meteor game was found by the NZHPT Auckland Collections Registrar under a cavity of a staircase at Highwic.
This parrot, now safely stuffed and contained within a glass dome, is said to have flown regularly between Highwic and Simla, the home of Mariamne, third daughter of Alfred and Eliza, and Colonol Morrow. Simla was situated in Seccombes Rd, diagonally opposite Highwic, but was demolished during motorway construction in the 1960s. The parrot was donated to the NZHPT in 1979 by a descendent of the family.
When alive, the parrot probably added an exotic touch to Highwic and its garden, fascinating the children and visitors of the Buckland family. A high maintenance pet and the privilege of wealthy owners, the parrot was also a way for the Buckland family to show off their status and to reinforce the grandeur of their home.
Popular as pets due to their affectionate nature, intelligence, bright colours and ability to imitate human voices, parrots were commonly imported at that time. Stuffed birds were also common as a house adornment, along with china, domed wax flowers, and trinket boxes.
Buckland Family Personal Accessories
These objects, original to Highwic, belonged to the Buckland family, first owners of the house, and are evidence of their wealth and social status.
Wallet, match box and card case
This wallet, made of crocodile skin with pigskin lining and silver fittings, belonged to Alfred Buckland and still contains his photographs. Alfred was born in England, and came to New Zealand in 1850 following the steps of his older brother William Thorne and one of his uncles, James Warwick. He started to work as a partner in a stock auctioneering business. Soon he was on his own, and successfully ran the business in Auckland and later on in different provincial towns. When Alfred died in 1903, his son-in-law H.T. Gorrie, and son Malcom Buckland, continued the family business. Evidence of his success and his substantial fortune, the Highwic homestead was built in Epsom in 1860s. At that time Buckland was considered to be the largest private landholder in the Auckland Province. He also acquired, among many other farmlands, what is now known as Buckland’s Beach.
The luxurious wallet was part of the panoply of the rich businessman and landowner, as well as the metal match box, probably made of brass and the card case, which bears a filigree silver pattern and scroll pattern branching from a central circle.
Composed of alternating sections of small metal squares with an embossed circle pattern, this belt was probably used as a housekeeping belt to loop the keys of the house. Alfred was first married to Eliza Wallen. They had three sons and seven daughters together. Eliza died not longer after they migrated to New Zealand, in 1866. As Highwic was built in 1863, Eliza did not have much time to enjoy her smart new home. Alfred remarried soon afterwards to Matilda Frodsham (1847-1932) and had seven daughters and four sons with her. Matilda was the lady of the Highwic house and more likely to be the one who wore the belt.
This kind of belt, used to run efficiently a wealthy household, with its army of children and the entertainment that a rich and notable family is expected to provide, was a vital item to the Victorian mistress of a household, compared sometimes to the leader of an enterprise.
Sculpture of Puck, circa 1893
Realised by Luca Madrassi (1848-1919), a sculptor born in Tricessimo, Italy, this bronze statue depicts Puck, a mischievous fairy and nature spirit from mythology. The delicate figure stands on a pedestal made of alabaster.
Madrassi, a pupil of Carrier Belleuse, studied and worked extensively in France, and exhibited at the Salon des Artistes from 1881 until 1896 and at the Nationale from 1896. He specialised in bust statuettes and allegorical groups. The Puck at Highwic is a typical piece of his work and his style.
This piece was given to Highwic in 1979. The donor’s grandfather bought the Puck in Chicago, probably at the World’s Columbian Exposition Fair, also known as The Chicago’s World’s Fair, in 1893. The scale of this Fair, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Columbus’ arrival in New World, demonstrated the emerging grandeur and the renaissance of city of Chicago after the fire of 1871 that destroyed a big part of the town.
To exhibit at this fair was likely to be a big encouragement for a rising artist and recognition of the quality of his art. There is no doubt that it contributed to his popularity as a fine artist of the end of the 19th century, as his artwork coming all the way to New Zealand testifies.