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Introduction

Since the 1850s, illuminated addresses have been created to mark special occasions or celebrate a person's achievements. An address is a formal greeting, usually beautifully written and decorated by hand. Often the decoration is personalized and includes miniature pictures relating to the life and work of the person who is being honoured. The word 'illuminated' refers to the use of gold and silver and bright colours to light up the pages, in the tradition of medieval illuminated manuscripts. In the nineteenth century there was a renewal of interest in the Middle Ages and, at first glance, many illuminated addresses look like a medieval page. The presentation of an illuminated address was often marked by a formal ceremony during which the text of the address was read out. Newspaper reports described the ceremony and the address and frequently quoted the text in full. All the addresses shown in this exhibition come from Sir George Grey Special Collections located on the second floor of Auckland Central Library.


MS 267. Illuminated address presented to W. C. Littler, Esq. on the occasion of his leaving the company after a term of 28 years for "a new part of the world". 1900

No known Copyright. Please acknowledge 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, ref. MS 267' when re-using images sourced from this exhibition.

Sir George Grey

During his long political career in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, Sir George Grey was presented with hundreds of addresses. They range from ordinary sheets of paper with signatures to beautifully decorated examples in elaborate bindings such as the two shown here. These addresses were presented to Grey during his tour of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in 1891 after he had been one of the New Zealand representatives at the Australian Federal Convention in Sydney. They were created at the height of the fashion for illuminated addresses and their quality reflects the warmth of the reception given to the seventy-nine year old Grey as a veteran statesman and liberal thinker.

South Australian residents. Address presented to Sir George Grey K.C.B. by former colonists of New Zealand., 1891. GNZ 920 GRE

No known Copyright. Please acknowledge 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, ref. GNZ 920 GRE' when re-using images sourced from this exhibition.

The artist J. C. Hoyte, well-known for his New Zealand paintings, had moved to Australia in 1879. The full-page miniature shows Bowen Falls, Milford Sound.


GNZMS 271. Address presented to Sir George Grey K.C.B. at Sydney by New Zealanders resident in New South Wales. 1891.

No known Copyright. Please acknowledge 'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, ref. GNZMS 271' when re-using images sourced from this exhibition.