Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mr Partington and his hemp

Yesterday, I visited Archives NZ at Mangere. Amongst a wealth of info on bus companies, court cases, land deals and whatnot -- I asked for a file dating from 1865. It involved Charles Frederick Partington, the originator of the famous flour mill and steam biscuit factory on Symonds Street, appealing a customs duty charge on a bale of biscuit bagging he imported. The officer on the day called it "linen", as he hadn't anything on his list for "biscuit bagging", just bags. Partington was charged £5 17/- (a whopping sum). He argued that the material was hemp, not cotton. He lost the appeal, as it couldn't be ascertained if the sample he'd cut as an example of the material concerned to send with his letter was from the same bale he'd been charged for on the day (he might have gone home and cut out from another bale, they obviously thought). The upshot is -- posterity has an example of surviving correspondence from Charles Partington, one of Auckland's early merchants and entrepreneurs, and a piece of his biscuit bagging from nearly 150 years ago. I was asked today by someone what things excited me while researching. This is one of them.

Archives NZ file ref: BBAO A78 5544 Box 2

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