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In 1969 Colin Durning, then a lecturer at the Dental School, received from James K. Baxter (then living at Jerusalem, on the Wanganui River) a batch of sonnets with the suggestions that they should be printed. As Durning later stated, ‘How could he decently be seen to have a hand in this matter when the sonnets were addressed to him?’ Dr Maslen offered to produce Jerusalem Sonnets using the Bibliography Room imprint, and to begin with at Durning’s expense. Initially, 500 copies were printed and sold in January 1971, priced at $1.25 cents. Demand was so great, that within 18 months, two more undifferentiated impressions were produced totalling 2,000 copies. As Maslen has written in his draft history of the Bibliography Room: ‘Even in Great Britain such edition quantities of a little book of verse would be exceptional.’ Ralph Hotere provided the cover art work, which was printed by the Otago Daily Times jobbing Department. Also on display is a hand-written receipt by Baxter for royalties received and the ever-present distribution list.
Ralph Hotere’s cover of James K. Baxter’s Jerusalem Sonnets, 1970