About this site

Fern Albums produced in New Zealand (and Australia) were recommended as gifts for sending to friends in 'the old Country' and hence are quite commonly found in Britain. The heyday of their production was from 1870-1900 and the main centres of production were Auckland (Craig & Cranwell) and Dunedin (Armstrong & Reid.

Some producers were meticulous in inserting printed labels into their albums. In addition, Eric Craig stamped the first page and the back of the last page of each album and the back of each fern card with his violet coloured shop stamp. Other producers were less consistent or indeed never used identifying labels or the label may be covered by a bookplate or new endpapers. Identifying albums without producer’s labels is more of a challenge. The style in which the ferns are mounted, the use of printed specimen labels and the presence of handwriting can all help in the identification. The handwriting of Eric Craig, Mrs Armstrong and of Walter Reid are all well known.

The producers rarely dated their albums, which would have been made incrementally over a number of years, perhaps with family members assisting. However, as so many of the albums were given as gifts, there is often a dated inscription which is a fair indication of when the album was purchased.

As well as the professionally produced albums, one off individual albums, of varying quality, are quite common. These are generally of family or local interest only unless they are of exceptional quality or include accurate details of the sites where the ferns were found. A few such albums are included in this site.

In addition to the New Zealand producers listed above, there are a number of other NZ fern mounters who made much smaller numbers of albums. A study of contemporary newspaper advertisements and of the entries and prizes awarded at both local and international exhibitions should help to identify some of these. It is hoped that by illustrating the features of professionally produced but as yet unidentified albums more information may be forthcoming. The set of three unidentified items illustrated in the Australasian galleries are such an example, three albums with three different owners. A comparison clearly indicated that they were from the same producer.

This site is still under development. It is intended to add a section on printed books in which pressed ferns (and other plants) have been used as illustrations. A section on albums of plants such as mosses and seaweeds will also be added for comparative purposes.

Thanks are due to many people who have given advice or kindly provided images to include on this site, including Adrian Dyer, Alison Evans, Martin Rickard, Barrie Stevenson & Rachel Webster. These images are provided for personal study only. For permission to use them in publications or if you wish to comment on or contribute to the site, please email the address below.

email fernalbums@virginmedia.com