Saturday, December 23, 2006

1953 Royal Tour Pencils

The 53rd Anniversary of the ’53 Royal Tour

At 10am on Wednesday 23 December 1953 the S.S Gothic berthed at the port of Auckland, and our monarch, ‘Elizabeth the Second, By the Grace of God, Queen of New Zealand and Her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith’, stepped onto New Zealand soil, the first and only reigning monarch to ever do so.

The crowds went wild!

Just like at Coronation time, it was a good time to be in the souvenir business, and many a souvenir pen and pencil was sold. Unfortunately it seems that most of them were not exactly the good stuff. Rather they were just the ordinary everyday stuff with “Royal Tour” or something similar printed on them. I’ve got a couple of examples.
First is this short pencil (12cm, 4 ¾’’) that has a jewelled crown on top. You twist the tip to propel the lead. Printed on the body in gold is a small crown and ‘H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, New Zealand 1953-54”. This pencils not in good shape. The printing has faded or rubbed off, the plating is all brassed, etc.

Just in case you are confused by the title, “Queen of New Zealand”, thinking she is Queen of England or something similar, well yes she is, but the various countries that she is Queen of all have their own separate legislation such that she is their Queen independently of the others. Thus she is Queen of Australia, Queen of The Bahamas, Queen of Canada, etc all as separate independent titles. I believe that things are all aligned these days, but back in the 1980’s I recall reading that some countries had human rights and other anti-discrimination legislation such that theoretically the laws of succession were a little bit tricky. However since The Queens oldest child is a male and his oldest child is a male there’s no problem, but if her oldest child had been a daughter, and Elizabeth passed on back in the 1980’s, then some countries could possibly have recognised the daughter as the new monarch and others would have recognised the son as monarch….complicated.
I also have this great three colour pencil, by Everite, and it’s in “as new” condition. It really is a big pencil, as you can see by comparison to the Dixon Ticonderoga Black wooden pencil. A veritable super-size me whopper, some 20cm (8 inches) long. There is a little crown on top and “N.Z. Royal Tour 1953-54” is printed on the body. Like the others you twist the tip to advance the lead.
The really neat thing about this pencil is that the three sections unscrew to become three separate little pencils, each with a different coloured lead – graphite in the white one, blue in the blue and red in the red one. Awesome.
Trivia: If you have really good eyesight, you will see that on the $20 note in the photo above, the signature to the left of Her Majesty is that of Donald T Brash, Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Dr Brash was the respected Governor of the Reserve Bank from 1988 to 2002, serving under Governments from both sides of the political fence. In 2002 he resigned and ran for Parliament as a National Party candidate. Then followed a meteoric rise through the ranks and he became the leader of the National Party, which narrowly lost our recent elections. So, the currency of New Zealand is guaranteed by the Leader of The Opposition! There can’t be too many countries that can make that claim.

Personal Trivia: Now even though I’ve written this posting about the Royal Tour, I’m not really a Monarchist. I guess I’m fairly “neutral”, like most New Zealanders. I wasn’t around for the 53 tour but I asked my parents if they went to any of the parades or events for Her Majesty. They weren’t able to make it to the parades, but recalled that it was a very big event at the time, and told me how beneficial the tour was for our family. At the time, my father’s father was the maintenance manager for a small hotel chain and Her Majesty was going to stay at one of the company’s hotels. The tour was of course the very first time a monarch had ever come to New Zealand, and no expense would be spared, the hotel had to be totally redecorated. It had actually only just been redecorated a few months previously, but everything had to be ripped out and replaced so it was totally brand new for the Queen. At the time my father and mother were newly-weds and struggling to build a house in their spare time. There were still some post-war restrictions in place, and many building materials were in short supply. So many as-new carpets and fittings removed from that recently redecorated hotel ended up in our house, and in particular we got a brand new “throne” for the smallest room in the house. Porcelain fit for Royalty!

ON HOLD. I wish you all well for the holiday season, and trust that next year will find you happy, healthy and wise. This blog will be on hold for the summer holidays. I will think of those of you who are having a ‘White Christmas’ with snow, as we fry up Christmas lunch on the BBQ and sink a few cold beers down here in the southern summer. Also spare a thought for our Australian cousins across the other side of the Tasman Sea. The bush fires are so bad that New Zealand fire-fighters are having to go over and help out.

All the best, Ciao!

Back in mid January.

Footnote: I actually prepared this posting a few weeks ago, and just to stuff up my trivia, Dr Brash has since resigned from politics. Caught in a bit of a scandal.

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