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Robin Lush collection of Thomas Gulliver photographs

Identifier: MSS-Archives-FA 2018/01

Scope and Contents

The collection is mostly comprised of prints and negatives taken by Gulliver in the early 20th century. Key themes from his print work are represented in the collection, with industrial buildings, maritime pursuits and nature featuring strongly, as well as portraits of family and friends.

Although many negatives have a corresponding print this is not always the case. Conversely, some prints occur without a related negative.

Print and negative size varies, with three sizes of glass plate being used.


  • 1900s-1990s
  • Majority of material found within 1902 - 1933


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

Thomas Gulliver (1891-1933) was a civil engineer and amateur artist, considered New Zealand’s foremost authority on the graphic arts in his time.

An exponent of etching, dry-point, aquatint, wood engraving and wood block colour printing, he excelled in pencil sketches of buildings and Auckland city scenes. Other interests included bookplate design and lettering, as well as book production and typography which led to the limited run production of a volume of poetry entitled ‘The years go round’, by R. A. Singer, and assisting the Auckland Little Theatre Company with their set design.

Gulliver was also a keen photographer and operated his own darkroom where he experimented with photographic printmaking.

In 1916 he founded the Quoin Club which helped revive national interest and recognition of etching and the graphic arts, through promotion and exhibition, until its dissolution in 1929.

Despite these activities Gulliver rarely exhibited, and did not refer to himself as an artist.

From 1927 he assisted the Auckland Art Gallery with curating graphic arts exhibitions, and in 1929 advised the Gallery on purchases for a permanent print collection. This led to formal recognition of his assistance with his appointment as ‘Honorary Curator of the Print Collection’.

Robin Lush came into possession of the photograph collection when the estate of one of Gulliver’s relatives was dispersed. The intention was to use the images to create a calendar through the Elam Fine Arts Printing Research Unit, however this publication never eventuated.


0.22 metres (1 card index box and 2 folders)

Language of Materials



The material in the collection had been in various custodies over time and there was clear evidence of sorting and grouping of prints. These groupings have been largely retained, with unsorted prints being interfiled or formed into new groupings.

Glass plate negatives have been arranged by theme as well as size, reflecting storage considerations.

The plates had mostly been removed from their annotated paper sleeves and stacked in boxes. These sleeves allow some insight into the subjects and timeframes of the images. The sleeves, as well as a representative sample of the glass plate packaging have been retained in Box 1.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Robin Lush, 2015.

Related Materials

Additional collections relating to of the work of T.V. Gulliver are held at MSS & Archives FA 2011/1 ('Thomas Gulliver Quoin Club collection') and FA 2015/1 ('Thomas Gulliver sketchbooks').

Inventory of the Robin Lush collection of Thomas Gulliver photographs.
William Hamill
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Fine Arts Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand