Friday, 27 November 2009

Typo: typographical wonder of the 19th century

A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review [1887-1897]

One significant project that we've recently made available online is Robert Coupland Harding's magazine Typo.

Typo was the product of one man, Coupland Harding, who did the editorial work, much of the writing, and the composition and printing.

Dr Sydney Shep goes into much more detail about Robert Coupland Harding and his magazine Typo in her introduction. As Sydney mentions, it is "a landmark in New Zealand printing and publishing, famous in its time, then forgotten, and now re-discovered."

There's some fantastic material in Typo, both pictorial and textual, and this is the first of a series of posts where I'll surface some of the interesting bits and peices we've noticed while working on this collection.

Below is a selection of some of my favourite pages from Typo, and these are only scratching the surface.

And you thought WingDings was cool...

Cover of vol I
Cover of vol III
OrnamentsOptical illusions
Cover advertisingCover of vol IV
Type ribbonsLyon & Blair souvenir
A typographic fantasyType specimensSecond-hand job fountsCover of vol VI
Type specimensEx-cathedraCover of volume sevenType specimens
Type specimensCover of vol VIII
Cover of vol XI
Type specimens

Friday, 13 November 2009

New texts from the NZETC (November 2009)

We're happy to announce a number of texts made recently available online at the NZETC website.

These texts are a bit of a varied bunch, but include the following notable works:
  • Te Kāhui Kura Māori
    The second issue of a born-digital journal of post-graudate Māori Writing.

  • A Book in the Hand: Essays on the History of the Book in New Zealand
    Originally published in 2000 by Auckland University Press who, along with the authors, have kindly permitted us to make this important book available online.

    There are some fascinating works in this collection, including Donald Kerr's essay on George Gray's book-collecting habits, Peter Lineham's look at the production of the 1887 second edition of the Maori bible, and Terry Sturm's survey of the publishing history of G. B. Lancaster, one of New Zealand's most successful authors who is little-remembered these days.

    For those with a more bibliographic bent, there is Jocelyn Cumming's article on the conservation of the 1827 East India Pilot, Peter Hughes' history of printer Bob Lowry and the Pelorus Press, and Margery Blackman's work on the art and craft of bookbinder Eleanor Joachim.

    For others more interested in literature itself, there is Patrick Sandbrook's essay on Robin Hyde, and Lawrence Jones observations on the shifts in generational attitudes that occured in the 1930s when writers such as Denis Glover, R.A.K Mason, and A. R. D. Fairburn were taking over from the older, established order of writers such as Alan Mulgan and Charles Marris.

  • The Manuscript Diary of James Brogden, August 1871 – December 1872
    James Brogden was approached in 1871 by Julius Vogel to construct the railway network that he envisioned for New Zealand, and Brogden's diary recounts many observations of his travels through New Zealand, negotiations with New Zealand public officials, and the resulting process of railway construction. Often candid, Brodgen's diary entries reveal the difficulties and frustrations he faced when dealing with both the physical and political geography of New Zealand.

    The original manuscript of this diary resides in the National Library of Wales, and we are pleased to be able to make the digital version (including fascimilie images of the manuscript diary pages) available online with the assistance and encouragement of David Budgett, a relative of James Brogden.

    James Brogden eventually went bankrupt, at least in part because of difficulties with the arrangements negotiated for the construction of New Zealand railways. As David phrases it in his introduction, "the diary then is written by an optimistic and vigorous man who has worked hard and successfully on the industrial development of his part of South Wales and hopes to do something similar in New Zealand. His story after that was less happy"

  • Jerzy Podstolski's 1972 translation of Sygurd Wiśniowski's 1877 Polish novel Tikera; or, Children of the Queen of Oceania
    The NZETC Nineteenth Century novel collection includes many literary curios, to which we now add this novel. Written by an adventuring Polish writer who had some acquaintance with the country, having lived here in 1864-5 though not visiting the novel's settings of the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, or New Plymouth, Tikera was originally published in 1877, with this version being translated from the 1956 Warsaw edition of Dzieci królowej Oceanii by Jerzy Podstolski, a Senior Lecturer at the former Library School in Wellington. This edition originally appeared with a very enlightening commentary by Dennis McEldowney which however, because of copyright considerations, we have not been able to make available on the website.
There are also a number of works which add further to collections that we've been developing in the last few years:

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

What are NZETC visitors after?

Like many other websites, we use Google Analytics to monitor our web traffic, and it allows us to easily see trends and patterns in who is using our site and the content they are accessing.

For example, in the latest month-on-month comparision (October traffic compared against September traffic), amongst other interesting developments, we notice
  • Absolute unique visitors are up by 9% (to 157,174)
  • The number of visits are up by 7% (to 185,877), as are pageviews by 4% (to 402,357)
  • However, the average time visitors are spending on the site is down slightly by 7% (to 2:01 minutes). This, we think, is because our server is performing much faster than previously, and therefore visitors are waiting less time for pages to load, so consequently we are not too worried about this figure
  • Almost 80% of our traffic originates from search-engines (i.e. Google), though the figure being referred from other websites is gradually increasing, and is currently 16.5%
Looking at the type of material that visitors are accessing on our site, we see the usual culprits appearing in the top ten most used resources:
Interestingly, apart from the large series (WH2 histories and Cyclopedias), it is the Maori and Polynesian language materials that consistently make it into the list of most-used resources from one month to the next. We think that this shows that, unlike English-language resources, there is a relative lack of good Maori and Polynesian language resources freely available on the web, and therefore people looking for these tend to end up at our site.

Other interesting trends that show up include general use of Internet technology:
  • Newer browsers are being adopted relatively quickly. Safari (+14%), Chrome (+26%) and Firefox (+10%) are all significantly up on their figures from last month
  • There is continued evidence of a move away from dial-up and towards broadband, espcially faster broadband, with cable (12%) and T1 (10%) significantly up on last month
So, using Google Analytics to compare out traffic from one month to the next provides interesting indicators into how we should be focusing our energy in times ahead. For example, the increased use of broadband shows that, over time, we can maybe become a little more relaxed about putting up webpages that contain lots of images (e.g. page images of the book from which the web page was generated). Also, it seems as if we should continue to put effort into digitising Maori and Polynesian language materials, as the demand is obviously there.

Also, although relying on search engines such as Google to drive traffic to the NZETC site has and is working well, maybe we need to think about about making it easier for external sites to link to our texts, as this figure of direct referrals (16%) is realtively low compared to search engine traffic (around 80%).