The discovery of a new treasure in the collection is always to be celebrated and when I shelved ‘The Homeopathic Echo’ while undertaking a collection shift, I could hardly believe what I was reading. To find a specialist health magazine published in Auckland as early as 1855 was astonishing.

Blog by Paula Legel, Associate Curator, Heritage Publications

Just think, Auckland was a tiny colonial village on land owned by Ngāti Whātua until Lieutenant Governor William Hobson proclaimed it the new capital of the colony of New Zealand in March 1841. Estimates of the population of colonists for all New Zealand at that time is approximately 5000, so Auckland would have had few people and little infrastructure as we understand it today. Certainly, the capability to print serials and newspapers in Tāmaki Makaurau in the 1840s and 1850s was challenging in itself, given that all the components of printed materials - from paper to ink, to type and printing presses, had to be imported. Access to a printing press wasn’t a given, nor that there were people in the township with the requisite skills. And how likely that there would there be sufficient people interested in the subject to purchase the number of copies required to cover the cost of production? The author and publisher would have to subsidise the endeavour, which may be why just twelve issues of The Homeopathic Echo were printed from volume one in March 1855 until volume 12 in February 1856.

Official Bay, Auckland. 1850. Auckland Museum PD-1895-1-3.
Who was responsible for this journal?

Who was responsible for this journal?

To publish a journal such the ‘The Homeopathic Echo’ was a feat of determination and persistence. Auckland at that time would have needed adaptable and energetic folk, prepared to have a ‘go’ to get what was needed created and printed. Dr Carl Frank Fischer seems to have been one of those engaged and energetic members of the Auckland community.

From various records I can see that C. F. Fischer created the magazine and initially, Bells’ Homeopathic Pharmacy was responsible for the publication. That in itself is unusual, pharmacies are not known for doubling as publishers.

Coincidentally, at the same time, Auckland Museum, established in 1852 by John Smith, was beginning to gain support through donations of objects and small financial contributions. We’ll come back to the connection between Mr Fischer and the Museum later.

New Zealander, Volume 12, Issue 1040, 5 April 1856, Page 2. Papers Past 
Dr Carl Frank Fischer

Dr Carl Frank Fischer

Dr Carl Frank Fischer, born in Austria and holding a medical degree from the Martin Luther University of Halle, Wittenberg, migrated to Auckland sometime in the early 1850s. By May 1854 he had successfully applied for naturalisation and in 1857, he and his wife Prudence Florentine (nee De Lattre) had a daughter Maria Theresa, born in here Auckland. In 1868 Fischer applied for Registration under the Medical Practitioners’ Act of 1867.

Fischer had a flair for promotion and his homeopathic practice soon became popular, particularly when he successfully treated Jane Graham after she had been crushed in an accident. Her husband, George Graham, was a prominent Auckland politician and entrepreneur and was publicly effusive in his appreciation of Fischer’s care. The ensuing publicity gained Fischer many patients and sparked a lively debate with other medical practitioners in the Auckland newspaper the Daily Southern Cross. In 1857 he founded the Homeopathic Association and was Superintendent of the homeopathic hospital which was open from 1858-1862. His elegantly decorated dispensary was located on Queen Street and illustrated his love of beauty and display.

He was active in the social whirl of the city and invested in land, owning a property on the shores of Lake Pupuke where he had a large comfortable home. He established a nursery there to grow the various plants for his remedies and also a vineyard, wine cellar and brandy distillery.

Dr Fischer’s wife Prudence was also involved in groups in Auckland society, including fundraising for the first Church of England infant school and the Auckland City Mission and Children’s Home.

Dr Carl Frank Fischer, 27 July 1859. Alexander Turnbull Library : ID. 1/2-005289-F

When the frigate Novara docked in Auckland in 1858, Fischer met and became close friends with Ferdinand Hochstetter and Julius Haast when he hosted a reception for the scientific staff of the Austrian funded expedition. Hochstetter and Haast also became close friends and went on to make a number of geological expeditions in Auckland and Nelson together.

Fischer was not a successful businessman and as a self-confessed spendthrift was unable to stay out of debt. In 1869 Fischer moved his family to Sydney, where he again set up practice. By 1877 the Fischers were in Europe and in London in 1879, his wife Prudence died after which Fischer and his daughter returned to Sydney. In 1882, daughter Marie Therese was married to Commander Burges Watson, R.N. and in 1891 Fischer died of a fever after visiting Marie Therese and Burges in China, where Watson had been posted by the British Navy.

View of Greydene, Rangatira Ave, Takapuna – Greydene (previously known as Flora Lea) was built on the property originally owned by Dr Fischer. Auckland Libraries : Takapuna Collection, T0152
Dr Fischer and the Museum

Dr Fischer and the Museum

Dr Fischer was involved in the management of the Auckland Mechanics Institute and became a member of the Auckland Institute & Museum, donating variously; sundry fossils, cassiterite with wood tin and steam tin, and in 1880 together with Ferdinand Hochstetter, a complete set of the publication on the Novara Expedition. This title is still held in the Museum's collection, and can also be read on the Biodiversity Heritage Library website.

Auckland Museum is lucky enough to have three bound sets of the 12 issues of ‘The Homeopathic Echo’, one of which is annotated, probably by a homeopathic practitioner. One of the copies we hold is in the original binding, undertaken by Leighton’s Binders, which in 1855 was located on the corner of Albert & Wyndham Streets.

We have also digitised the magazine, which you can download and read below. 


Homeopathic Echo Vol.1 no.1, March 1 1855. Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum : NZ Serial RX1