In the exhibition at Upstairs Gallery in Titirangi, I have a collection of small prints of things that I have pilfered over the years. Last week a visitor came to the gallery and asked me to contact him. Upon phoning him I discovered that I was speaking to a very nice 81 year old man named Merv who had a story to tell me about my doorstop.
It isn’t one.
Merv and his lovely wife Joy have two and they are bookends. His family has been living in the Devonport area for 130 years and he is familiar with it’s history. During WWII Calliope Dock, a dry dock at the Devonport Naval Base was used to smelt metal for the Navy. After the end of the war one of the operators for the Auckland Harbour board (who operated the forge for the Navy) got a hold of, or created a mold and the boys at the forge would use the left over metal to create these bookends for their friends (and probably sold a few on the side). They made them in 1946/1947/1948, Merv couldn’t be more specific as he is relying on his memory.
Merv’s were given to him by one of the men who worked at the forge and he says that his look to be a much higher quality of metal than mine. Later I related this story to a friend who has a keen interest in Maritime history and years of experience on ships. He took a look at my bookend and thought that the metal mix used in my piece looked like the same metal mix used in fittings on boats that had been made from melted down gun metal.