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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48



The mineral wealth of New Zealand has become almost proverbial; but only within the past few years have we been able to form even an approximate idea of our buried treasures. As new industries spring up, and as the country becomes more densely peopled, our minerals will be brought more and more into use. So far, we are best acquainted with the various clays used in brick and pottery; and our best known examples of clay products are those shown from time to time by Messrs Austin and Kirk—now a company. Of their exhibits on the present occasion it would not be easy to speak too highly; and it can be stated that the articles are simply selections from the stock on hand—not "special" productions. It is a pity that there should have been any necessity for dividing the collection into three portions. There is a stand in the centre of the south end of the large hall, another on the centre table, and yet another in the machinery room. In the first mentioned portion there are, amongst the brown-glazed goods, a number of well-made teapots. These, Messrs Austin and Kirk hope for the future to be able to supply to the trade, and so to shut out one more line of imported ware. There are also tobacco jars of rustic design, spittoons, basket-pattern jugs, plain and ornamental dishes, &c. In lighter coloured ware there are filters for household use, tazza and other vases—some of which would be capital things to grow musk and trailing plants; in white clay there are some beautiful forms of open-work vases, and, for the first time, a mortar and pestle was shown. This article gives out an almost metallic ring, and is evidently sufficiently hard to be serviceable for almost all purposes. The stand in the machinery shed includes the series of drain pipes as produced by hydraulic power; and the samples seem to be good enough for any possible purpose, the material being dense, and the glazing continuous over the interior surface as well as on the outside. The same stand includes some fine examples of garden vases, and jars of all sizes. There are also some of the recently introduced glazed silt traps, ready for connection with piping of from four to six inches, and these things must certainly come into general demand at no distant date. The glazed goods also include tiles for edgings, and for flooring, some of the flooring tiles being glazed with black, dense blue, buff, or white. These form a recent addition to the productions, and they simply require to be known about, to be brought into use. Another new item for the firm to show, was a sample of the coal existing on the recently acquired land in the Malvern district. The seam was worked some years ago, but was subsequently abandoned. It will now be brought into use again, and will be a most material aid in developing the industry. Mention must not be omitted of the third portion of Messrs Austin and Kirk's exhibit, shown on the central table in the large hall. The articles, which are made of the finest fireclay, and are finished in the biscuit or un- page 12 glazed state, are exquisitely modelled. They were made some time ago by the mode her who is now working at a table in the machinery room, where the visitors press round him in crowds, eager to watch the wonderful amount of manipulative skill which he displays. The various cases include large groups of flowers, marvellously true to nature, elegantly-shaped vases containing bouquets, portrait frames wreathed with flowers and foliage, and even such tiny articles as scarf rings, crosses for neck ribbons, brooches &c. An interesting story attaches to a brooch similar to those exhibited. It was sent as a present to a lady in Wellington, and happened to be placed in the window of a jeweller there. Lady Robinson saw it, and expressed such a desire to possess it, that it was shortly afterwards presented to her.

But if Messrs Austin and Kirk are as yet pre-eminent for their pottery, formidable rivals are springing up, and for some things the new comers have at once secured prestige. For example, the various forms of bricks shown by Messrs Ford and Ogdon are practically unrivalled. The ordinary bricks are almost mathematically true as compared with one another, and the fire bricks present angles as sharp almost as could be secured in metal. This firm shows some fine mouldings, which will be valuable for string courses for relieving brick buildings; and they also show some of the raw materials found on the land worked by them at Malvern, such as marble, manganese (an "iren-like" metal), ironstone, clay, gannister (one of the fireclays abounding in siliceous matter), and glass sand. This sand, by the way, should be compared with the sample shown in another part of the building by Mr Stansell, and to which the judges at the Sydney Exhibition awarded a first prize. It will be found that the two samples appear to be from the same deposit, and that evidently Messrs Ford and Ogdon have at their disposal a mineral which sooner or later will have to be largely drawn upon. Messrs Neighbours, one of the order firms, show a large stand of pottery ware. They have, from time to time, carried off honours for their products at various local gatherings, and they show one of their medals. A protest must be entered against the two well-shaped garden vases, which have been painted over, and in gaudy fashion. This is a mistake. The natural appearance of well-made brown or fireclay erare cannot be improved by such means. It may be that some section of the public demands vases so spoiled; if so, the fact is much to be regretted. Mr W. Plant, of the Thames, shows on one of the centre tables a small collection of glazed ware, including teapots and jugs, all sufficiently well modelled to have a fair chance of being readily sold.

The Canterbury Marble Company is represented by a series of polished specimens such as would be built up into pillars. Through all the vicissitudes of the Company, the marble from their reefs has never failed to win admiration either here or in England, though as yet it has—through a variety of causes—been but little used for any practical purpose. Now and again, one has an opportunity of seeing how well it may be worked up, and there is a fortunate instance furnished by the adjoining exhibit of Mr W. Stocks, who shows some marble mantelpieces. These are, for the most part, of the well-known Sicilian marble, which has been imported in slabs, and worked up by the exhibitor. But one of the mantelpieces is relieved by panels of richly-coloured marble from the Canterbury quarry, and the contrast obtained is decidedly beautiful. Mantel or chimney pieces in the white stone now so much used in our better class of buildings, are shown by Mr C. Parsons. They have been worked with great neatness, and Mr Parsons has shown a desire to meet the wants of all classes of the community, by the prices he has affixed. These are respectively, 25s, £2 10s and £5. Terra cotta, the Italianised version of fire-clay ware, has a representation, and a highly effective one, in the display made by Messrs Condliffe Bros., of White Cliffs. They show moulded blocks which may be combined to form relief lines in imitation of stone carving, with the advantage that the intensely hard clay product is not liable to have its sharp outlines weathered away, nor to become begrimed so speedily as the much softer stone. There are also decorative medallions in the same almost imperishable material, vases of various kinds, and a prettily designed table, which is suggestive of a quiet nook in a well-kept garden. Mr William Wilson shows a block of the widely used white rock building stone, and specimen blocks of the bituminous and anthracite coals found at Whitecliffs. The anthracite or stone coal, it may be remarked, almost always presents a peculiarly hard and shiny appearance, and in use it gives out a large amount of heat with scarcely any flame or smoke. For household page 13 purposes, if it can only be delivered in the centres of population at sufficiently low rates, it ought to be valuable for mixing with other coals. The bituminous coal, such as that shown by Mr Wilson, would, of course, burn much more freely.

There recently appeared in the columns of the Lyttelton Times a most important report from Dr Hector upon the chalk deposit which occurs on the land of Messrs Ingram and White, at Oxford. The report in question included an analysis of this chalk, and indicated the various purposes—such as the manufacture of cement—to which it might be readily applied. Messrs Ingram and White show a block of the chalk, and also a sample of whiting made therefrom. It is much to be hoped that when another Industrial Exhibition is held in this city, there will be evidence of large practical results. Messrs Ingram and White are themselves quietly preparing for the manufacture of cement, and under date July 5 they have received from Dr Hector analyses of various samples of clays which they sent to Wellington, with the view of ascertaining which was "best adapted for the manufacture of Portland cement in combination with the chalk found at Oxford." In the remarks accompanying the analytical tables, Dr Hector says:—"The result of this comparison is to show that No. 6 is the clay that is most suitable for mixing with the Oxford chalk, as it requires an aluminous rather than a siliceous clay, owing to its containing a high per centage of silica in the eighteen per centage of impurity which it contains." If Kaiapoi is famous for nothing else, it is becoming most favourably known for its curious and abundant strata of sand, gravel, and grit, 30 kinds of which are shown by Mr E. Smethurst, who has established a Christchurch agency with Messrs F. B. Lloyd and Co., No. 4 siding, South belt. The finest of the sands shown is said to contain as high as 98 per cent of the constituents required in glass-making; and it is at present being used as a flux in the pottery works of the Messrs Neighbours, and the Messrs Austin and Kirk. The supply is considered to be practically inexhaustible. The peculiarly sharp feel of some of the specimens of sand led to inquiry, and it was soon ascertained that in the tedious and extremely difficult piece of concrete work at the Drainage Pumping Station, this sand is being used by the contractor at the request of Mr Napier Bell, the Engineer. The sand was also used in forming that portion of the Madras street storm-water sewer which runs under the railway premises, and in the construction of the important works recently carried out by the Christchurch Gas Company. One of the grades of gravel was referred to recently in these columns, as having been spread upon some of the Hagley Park footpaths, the noticeable feature being the extraordinary evenness of this stony "grain," as it has been termed. When the various layers are broken down together they form, according to weighty evidence, a splendid material for concrete building, and some thousands of yards have been used within the past few years at the Addington and Lyttelton gaols, at Sunnyside, and in the building of some parts of the Cathedral, and the new Resident Magistrate's Court. With regard to the exhibit under notice, it is highly commendable for the neatness with which the thirty samples have been arranged. Sand specially adapted for glass-making is shown by Mr Stansell, the two bottles being those which were shown at the recent exhibition in Sydney, and there awarded a first prize. It is well known that one of the best glass-making sands in the world is that obtained in the Isle of Wight. The sand now under notice, which is peculiarly white and fine, has been pronounced by competent judges to be quite equal to the Isle of Wight deposit. According to the analyses made by Mr Stan-sell, and confirmed by Professor Bickerton, it contains 98.8 per cent of silica, and 0.5 of alumina and lime, the remainder being water. So far, then, as one of the principal requisites is concerned, there is reason to hope that glass-making may eventually be one of our local industries. The small blocks of pottery clay from South Malvern, also shown by Mr Stansell, are valuable as indicating the high quality of some of our deposits. The specimens contain 95 per cent of silicate of alumina, about 4 of alumina, and 1 of lime. Mr J. M'Ilraith, Glentunnel, shows specimens of moulded fire-bricks, the shapes being such as to admit of their being easily and neatly built together for furnaces, &c., without the need for hand-shaping. The quality of the bricks is extremely good.