Hidden treasures # 3: The Canterbury Almanack 1853

Apparently I should have sown my Oats and Barley last month.  The good news is, though, that there’s still plenty of time to get my Mangold Wurzel into the ground.  I am also to bear in mind that

… each successive day throughout the month [of October] suggests additional duties peculiar to itself, the performance of which cannot be advantageously deferred.

All this and much more helpful information can be found in this week’s ANZC treasure find – The Canterbury  Almanack for the Year of our Lord 1853, Calculated for the Meridian of Lyttelton (first year of publication).

With a charming disclaimer on the first page:

In presenting to the public the first Almanack published in the Canterbury Settlement, we are but too sensible of its shortcomings in many respects.  Such as it is, however, we present it, with its imperfections, to our fellow-colonists, in the hope that they will not too minutely scrutinize its deficiencies.

the almanack provides information ranging from phases of the moon, to planting guides for mangold wurzel, to a remarkably detailed description of the Canterbury landscape:

at the S.W. angle formed by the peninsula with the main land, a shallow lagoon, called Lake Ellesmere, about 18 miles long and 8 broad, is only divided from the sea by a narrow shingle bar, through which, at its S.W. extremity, the natives every year cut a channel for the purpose of catching eels on the borders of the lake thus laid dry.

I love almanacks, and I especially love that this one is both SO OLD, and SO LOCAL.  So much of the information here remains current or useful for research, despite its over-150-year-old publication date – planting guides, local geography, shipping list and other historical details.  The advertisements at the back not so much, however, which is a shame.  I would love to have visited Thomas Gee, Pastry-Cook, Confectioner, Fancy Biscuit Baker, and Ginger Beer Manufacturer in Canterbury Street, Lyttelton (for Bride-Cakes, Jellies, Blanch-Manges, Patties and Ornamented Savoy Cakes made to order), on moderate terms.

Tune in again in a few days, when we’ll be looking at manufacturing in 1965 Canterbury; read some previous Hidden Treasures posts; or just drop by the ANZC collection here at Central Tuam Library and find your very own gems!

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