Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood
The basket making industry, which includes all sorts of useful and ornamental basket work, is one that deserves the fullest support, being purely a local industry, the outlay in which is mainly for labour, which has gradually become established in Christchurch against every difficulty and unassisted by any modification of the customs tariff. Those who visit Mr J. Silvester's shops, the one at 187, Gloucester-street, immediately opposite the Rink stables, and the other in Manchester-street, will readily recognise to what perfection the trade has been brought, and they will also see articles equal, if not superior, to what can be imported, while the prices are certainly not higher than those asked for similar goods in English shops. Mr. Silvester is no novice at his trade, having served his apprenticeship to it in England when a lad, and having followed it almost continuously ever since. He opened in Christchurch about six years ago, and as a specimen of his enterprise we may mention, that he then planted on his farm at Kaiapoi, 36,000 osiers to supply himself with that staple of his trade. However, they did not prosper, and he now draws his supply principally from Bangiora, importing some peculiar sorts from Hobart. As we mentioned, the manufacture is entirely one of hand labour, no machinery having been invented suitable for the work. The osiers, when peeled, are worth about £35 a ton. He manufactures page 196everything from a common clothes basket to most beautiful, pieces of fancy furniture in delicately fine work. A new thing here which he has introduced is the basket scroll work window-blinds which have lately become so very fashionable for gentlemen's country houses at Home.