condensed discuss document expanded export feedback print share remove reset document_white enquire_white export_white report_white
discuss document export feedback print share gallery-landscape

chair, folding

Object / Artefact › History
  • Other titles
    chair dedicated to MC "Polly Plum" and WCTU, Auckland (descriptive name)
  • Description
    Folding chair dedicated to Mary Ann Colclough, "Polly Plum", and Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), circa late 1880s-1890s

    Folding chair with pivot on seat-level; folding wooden frame; in two parts joined with metal screws masked with wooden caps; woven cane seat in traditional 7-step pattern; leather strap for hanging; decorative motifs include some wooden inlay work, pokerwork and staining; with red velvet seat or cushion cover embroidered in floral pattern with gold and silver metallic thread and sequins

    Inscribed on seat back: "M C / WCTU / Polly Plum / AUCKLAND"; heavy metal plate attached verso: "IN MEMORY OF ONE WHO LOVED TO SERVE"
  • Place
  • Other Number
    2006.98.2, 7057
  • Accession number
  • Accession date
    26 October 2006
  • Collection area
  • Item count
  • Record richness
Folding chair dedicated to MC "Polly Plum" and WCTU, Auckland [2006.98.2]
Folding chair dedicated to MC "Polly Plum" and WCTU,… … Read more


  • Credit
    Collection of Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, 2006.98.2
  • Notes
    ‘In Memory of One Who Loved to Serve’ is the inscription on this chair dedicated to the memory of Mary Ann Colclough alias ‘Polly Plum’.

    Mary Colclough was in the vanguard of the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand.

    Born in London in 1836, Mary Ann Barnes trained as a teacher before coming to New Zealand in 1859. She settled in Auckland and in 1861 married Thomas Caesar Colclough. Following his death in 1867, and with two young children to care for, Mary resumed teaching. She also became a champion for women’s rights, and in particular, targeted property rights for married women. Through 1871-1873 Mary Colclough campaigned vigorously, delivering public lectures in Auckland and the Waikato and, under the pseudonym “Polly Plum”, contributed articles to a number of newspapers.

    When asked what rights she wanted for women ‘Polly Plum’ responded “The right, as thinking, reasoning beings, to decide for themselves what is best for their own happiness. If they were satisfied with man's decision, this agitation for change would not be.”
    Elsewhere she commented that it was “iniquitous that in a Christian country, anyone, male or female, should have it in their power to wrong and oppress others, under the shelter of the law.”

    Large audiences attended Mary’s lectures on the subject of women’s rights – to own property (within marriage), to vote, to work, to be educated. She also advocated temperance and improved treatment of women prisoners and prostitutes. At a time when it was unusual for women to deliver public lectures she attracted large audiences - boats were laid on from the North Shore for her second Auckland lecture. She also had the support of a number of leading clergymen, and her departure from Auckland to take up a teaching post in Tuakau was marked by a public farewell.

    But she also had many opponents. A Waikato Times editorial responded that “The majority of women are unfit even to have authority over their children still less over their domestic servants. To make them legally equal to their husbands would be disastrous in the extreme … Women’s power is her weakness, her tenderness, and her ability to love deeply.”

    In 1874 Mary Colclough crossed the Tasman to Australia where she continued her support for women’s causes. This included advocating athletic sports for girls, the removal of the vow of obedience from the marriage service, and public discussions about prostitution.

    Mary Colclough returned to New Zealand in 1876 and continued teaching – at Rangiora and Papanui. She witnessed the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act in 1884 but unfortunately did not live to see New Zealand women receive the vote, as she died in 1885 aged forty-nine following a serious accident.
  • Person
  • Place
  • Date
    1 January 1885 to 31 December 1885
  • Subject category
  • Culture
  • Production
    unknown (woodworker)
    Late 1880s-1890s
    Queen Victoria (1837 - 1901), English reign
  • Signature/marks
    FOR ONE WHO LOVED TO SERVE  (presentation inscription)
  • Consists of
    • .1 - chair › leather
    • .1 - chair › cane (plant material)
    • .2 - cover › metallic thread
    • .1 - chair › metal
    • .2 - cover › calico
    • .1 - chair › wood
      .1: chair frame: wood - possibly Australian mahogany; woven cane seat; leather straps; metal plaque verso .2: velvet cloth; cotton backing; metallic thread & sequin embroidery
      possibly Australian mahogany
    • .2 - cover › velvet
  • Dimensions
    • .1 - chair height x width x depth/length
      (.1 chair h x w x d: (closed) 1020mm x 435mm x 160mm h x w x d: (open) 820mm x 435mm x 660mm .2 cushion cover l x w: 400mm x 390mm)
    • .1 - chair height x width x depth/length
    • .2 - cover length x width
  • Classification
    Chenhall Nomenclature (Nomenclature)
    › 02 Furnishings (Category)
    › Furniture (Classification)
    › Seating Furniture (Sub-classification)
    › Chair (Primary Term)
    › Chair, Folding (Secondary Term)
  • Classification Documents
    Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging (Primary Title)
    A Revised and Expanded Version of Robert G. Chenhall's System for Classifying Man-Made Objects. (Other Title)
    Robert Chenhall
    Nashville/Tennessee/USA  (Place of Publication)  (nomenclature)
  • Record created
    29 September 2006

Object tags

Auckland Museum tags

Visitor tags

  • Contribute more detail to this record by adding your own names, classifications or categories via a tag. Tags also make this record more findable on search.

Related items

Results from DigitalNZ

Other items

    The development of the Auckland War Memorial Museum online collection is an ongoing process; updates, new images and records are added weekly. In some cases, records have yet to be confirmed by Museum staff, and there could be mistakes or omissions in the information provided.