Straight Jackets: the Art of the Book Jacket University of Otago Straight Jackets: the art of the book jacket

Henry Shaw

Henry Shaw was born in Birmingham, England on 5 September 1850 and arrived in New Zealand with his parents in 1859. He was, at various times various times between the 1870s and the 1900s, employed by a number of Auckland businesses: McArthur, Shera and Co, a drapery warehouse on the site of what is now Smith and Caughey's, and the American Tobacco Company (amusingly, their cable was 'Apache'). He also worked as a commercial accountant. He died in Wellington on 2 May 1928, aged 78.

Shaw collected some fine books in his life. He gave 65 incunabula, 16 medieval and early renaissance manuscripts, and various highspot items such as Ben Jonson's Folio works (1616) and Kelmscott and Doves Press items to Auckland. Of his collection of 5200 books, illustrative materials predominate.

Shaw also indulged in 'cutting and pasting', the fashion of extra-illustrating volumes by adding additional prints and drawings to bound volumes. The Auckland Library holds 32 separate titles that Shaw extra-illustrated (grangerized). These include the Works of Shakespeare, John Ruskin's Modern Painters, The Art of J M W Turner, Philip Hamerton's Man in Art and Women in Art, and Views of Scotland, Robert Burns' Works and other 'created' works such as 'Architectural Illustrations British and Foreign', 'British Art from Hogarth to the Present', 'Illuminated Ornaments', 'Humourous Drawings' and 'Views of the World'.

He also collected book jackets of the 1920s, discarding the books and pasting the covers on to art paper. With kind permission from Special Collections, Auckland City Libraries, here is a selection.

Henry Shaw, c.1920


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