New Zealand Antique Prints
& Rare Books

The On-line

Postcards may also be seen at:

New Zealand Birds’
(The Greytown Gallery)

65 Wood Street
Post Office Box 146
Greytown, 5742
New Zealand

Mobile: +64 (0)27 508 5078

Celluloid postcards:

Celluloid, a new material developed by American inventor John Wesley Hyatt in 1869, was considered the first semi-synthetic plastic. It was invented to replace ivory in billiard balls, but it proved unsuitable for the purpose. This sent its inventor to look for other applications.

Because celluloid could be made to imitate expensive or rare materials -- such as ivory, tortoiseshell, and mother-of-pearl -- it was soon employed in the manufacture of fancy goods affordable for the growing middle class. As celluloid became more plentiful and inexpensive, its applications expanded, and by the 1880s, it was everywhere, including postcards.

These two cards are from a sample album of greeting cards, produced by A D Willis of Wanganui. ca 1885 purchased by the National Library from John R Eccles, Stamps coins and postcards, Willis St, Wellington, December 2011.

The Album contains 62 watercolours, 48 chromolithographs, attached to album pages, usually four to a page, over 29 of 47 pages. The cover has a textured surface and blind stamping around the edge of the cover, front and back.

The album has at least two pages cut from it; one remains loose within it. Two of the bird drawings from one of the cut pages are no longer with the album.

It is reasonable to suggest that many of the watercolours of birds featured in the album were based on the illustrations by J G Keulemans in 'A history of the birds of New Zealand' by Walter Buller.

Reference:  Auckland Star (Auckland), "Christmas Publications", October 8, 1891: 9.
Link to:  Alexander Turnbull Library

Navigation Assistance:
Click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

A D Willis

Circa 1885

Greeting cards:
— Watercolour on celluloid —
Artist:  Unknown
— (probably JG Keulemans).
Approximate Size:
Celluloid: 4 1/4 x 2 7/8 inches,
(11 x 7.3 cm)
Mount: 6 1/4 x 4 3/8 inches,
(16 x 11 cm)
Page: 6 6/8 x 4 7/8 inches,
(17 x 12.2 cm)


Willis, celluloid, Little grey kiwi -- LINK to larger image

Card (1):
Little Grey Kiwi
Price: $150.00 USD
(Includes shipping)

Willis, celluloid, rail, -- LINK to larger image

Card (2):
Price: $150.00 USD
(Includes shipping)