Literary Nelson – books and newspapers
One of the first bookshops in the country was opened in Nelson - by Charles Elliott, in August 1842. Since then bookshops have been an important feature of Nelson business and Nelson life; and one reflected across New Zealand, with the first British immigrants being working class and keen to educate themselves.1
In the early days, bookselling was combined with general retailing; for example Charles Elliott "diversified into soap, candles, coffee, postage stamps, family medicine and even butchery".2 It was also associated with printing - Charles Elliott started the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, as well as selling books.
Books were also sold by auctioneers. In Trafalgar Street, Oswald Curtis Bros. was auctioning books in the early 1850's3 and, later in the same decade, Alexander Aitken was listed as an auctioneer, bookseller and owner of a circulating library.
The number of bookshops in Nelson has decreased in recent times, with closures and mergers.
- August 1842 - Charles Elliott (1811-1876) established the first newspaper within a few weeks of the New Zealand Company settlers arriving in Nelson: Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle - and opened the first bookshop
- 1857 - the Colonist newspaper founded by a group of Nelson residents (to oppose the dominance of the large landowners of the district).
- Early 1860's - Henry Jackson, William Darby (closed 1905) and James Tingle (closed early 1870's) opened book stores
- 1865 - Jesse Hounsell took over Jackson's shop
- 1865 - Robert Lucas & Son established, as a printers, bookbinders and stationers.
- 1866 - Lucas establishes the Nelson Evening Mail in Whakatu Lane (a replica of the bulding is exhibited at Founders Park)
- 1870's- W.M.Stanton opens a booksellers
- 1871 - Henry Jackson opens Jackson & Co. , Trafalgar St., Bookseller & Stationer
- 1874 - Nelson Examiner ceases publication
- 1875 - Hounsell moves his shop to Trafalgar Street (he dies 1907 - the shop remained until 1989 under different owners: Ernest Hounsell, David Ollsen, Arnold Angelo and Jim Trathen)
- 1892 - Lucas family drop bookselling and focus on publishing - Nelson Evening Mail, a Nelson Almanac, and some literary supplements.
- 1910 - Alf Robinson sets up a bookshop in Hardy St.
- 1921 - the newspapers, the Colonist and the Nelson Evening Mail merge
- 1943 - Gertrude Mellett and niece Noeli opened a bookshop beside Hotel Nelson
- 1949 - Cecil Page buys Alf Robinson's Hardy St shop, which becomes C. Page & Son Ltd
- 1957 (Nov) - Noeli Mellet's bookshop moves to 196 Trafalgar St (following Gertrude's retirement)
- 1964 - Bob and Jill Anderson open ABC Bookshop
- 1964 Dec - Mellett's bookshop is sold to Whitcombes (which later becomes Whitcoulls)
- 1965 - Noeli Mellet sets up shop in Maxwell Road, Blenheim
- 1967 - Norman and Jacqueline Sparrow take over C. Page & Son Ltd and it becomes Pages Bookshop (249 Trafalgar St)
- 1970's - Noeli moves back to Nelson and opens Noeli's Book Nook in Hardy St
- 1973 - ABC bookshop transferred to John Acheson - in partnership with Jill Anderson
- 1980 - John Acheson starts The Bookmark (Buxton Square) and Jill (Blechynden-)Anderson runs the ABC bookshop alone. It becomes a "Nelson institution"4 with its neighbour Chez Eelco
- 1989 - Hounsell's bookselling shop closed (after Hounsell's death it had been run by son Ernest, then David Ollsen, Arnold Angelo and Jim Trathen)
- 1991 - Tim and Susie Blackmore take over ABC bookshop
- 1992 - ABC Bookshop becomes Blackmores (284 Trafalgar Street)
- 1993 - Nelson Mail sold to Fairfax media
- 1995 - Bookmark closes (having moved to Bridge St in 1994)
- 1998 - Pages and Blackmores merge to become Page and Blackmore - 254 Trafalgar Street
Edited December 2020
Sources used in this story
- Rogers, A. & M. (1993) Turning the pages. Auckland, N.Z. : Reed for Booksellers New Zealand p. 2
- Rogers, p.8
- Rogers, p.9
- Rogers, p.161
- Nelson Telephone Directories
- Nelson Newspaper Press in (1906) The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]. Retrieved from NZETC:
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Further sources - Literary Nelson – books and newspapers
- 120 years, 1866-1986 : the Nelson Evening Mail. (1986) Nelson [N.Z.] : R. Lucas and Son (Nelson Mail)
- Good books make good citizens : 100 years of Reed publishing : National Library Gallery, Wellington, 10 August-10 November 2007 (2007) Wellington, N.Z. : National Library of New Zealand
- Kwasitsu, L. (1996) Printing and the book trade in early Nelson Wellington, N.Z. : Elibank Press
- Lawlor, P. (1954) Books and bookmen : New Zealand and overseas Wellington : Whitcombe & Tombs, 1954
- Lash, M. D. (1992). Nelson Notables 1840-1940: a dictionary of regional biography. Nelson, N.Z.: Nelson Historical Society, p. 98 (Robert Lucas); p.54 (Charles Elliott)
- McLean, G.(2007) Whare Raupo : the Reed Books story Auckland, N.Z. : Reed
- Mitchell, D. (1992) Nelson's newspaper : the story of the Nelson Evening Mail. Nelson [N.Z.] : Nelson Evening Mail
- Paradise : new worlds of books and readers / Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand. (2007) Wellington, N.Z. Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand
- Rogers, A. & M. (1993) Turning the pages. Auckland, N.Z. : Reed for Booksellers New Zealand
- Diary of a christian voyager (1991, March 5) Nelson Evening Mail sup.p.4 [Robert Lucas]
- Kwasitsu, L.(1986) Early libraries in Nelson. New Zealand Libraries 45(1), p.1-6
- Kwasitsu, L. (1987) News reporting in the 'Nelson examiner', 1842-1874 Turnbull Library Record 20(1) p.31-43 [Charles Elliott]
- Kwasitsu, L. (1986) The production of the 'Nelson Examiner' in the context of the early New Zealand press Turnbull Library Record, 19(2), p.123-139
- Palmer, Rt. Hon Sir G. (2019) The contribution of the Nelson Examiner to New Zealand's constitutional history. Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies 8(5), pp. 49-54
- White T. (2014, November 15) Paper founder had penchant for spritiualism. Manawatu Standard, p.17 [re.William Charles Nation of the Colonist]
- Mr Charles Elliott in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]
- Nelson Newspaper Press in (1906) The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]
- Robert Lucas (1906) in The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts]