Friday, November 7, 2008

J & A Wiseman, saddler and harness maker



I took this shot (sorry for the odd angle and the flash, folks) in Centennial Street at the Auckland War Memorial Museum last Easter Sunday. I'm thoroughly glad the museum is open on Easter Sunday, by the way -- a welcome diversion from the weekend.

Anyway ...

The following comes from the museum's 1966 guide to Centennial Street (the street display itself originally donated by Milne & Choyce to mark their own centenary):
"The firm of Wisemans was founded in 1861 by two brothers, James and Alexander Wiseman, who came to New Zealand from Tasmania, where they had been in the saddlery business with their father.

"They started a wholesale saddlery business in Dunedin, but soon moved to Auckland where, under the name of J & A Wiseman, they opened their first shop next to the site later occupied by His Majesty's Arcade. At that time, a creek flowed down Queen Street, and entrance to the shop was by footbridge.

"By the end of the century, the premises consisted of a large three-storied building, mainly occupied with the wholesale trade. In 1921, the premises were moved across the road next to the site which they now occupy.

"On the death of Mr James Wiseman in 1898, the business was taken over by Mr John Wiseman. In 1924, Mr Frank Wiseman formed the company of Frank Wiseman Ltd to operate the retail side as a completely separate business.
"Shortly after the business opened in Auckland in 1861, Mr. James Wiseman cast a white horse in plaster and mounted it over the shop front, where it remained for nearly 50 years. It is claimed that the last hitching post in Auckland was outside the shop."
Alexander, the son of James Wiseman, became an architect and designed one of Auckland's enduring landmarks: the Ferry Building (1912).

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