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Going, Going, Gone! The Most Important Record Of Our National Game Goes Under The Hammer

The 1924 Invincibles perform the Haka | 3 June 1925 | gelatin silver print 140 x 180mm EST. $500 - $1,000

While many assumed that 2020’s most important rugby event would be this month's Bledisloe tests, the launch of Webb’s latest auction is set to rival the on-field action.

Webb’s are honoured to reveal a collection of over 200 rare photographs from the archives of Fairfax’s seven New Zealand newspapers. The collection documents the formative years of our national pastime and includes some of the most historically significant and important images in New Zealand Rugby history. The images showcase three decades of kiwi heroes, their journey and experiences playing as part of our national team on fields in Aotearoa and abroad.

“The foundation and history of New Zealand Rugby is here in this collection… Back then, this was really the only way you could see your heroes. Just sit pitch side and hope they get tackled into you.” - Shane Howarth, All Black #939

The collection was once thought to be lost forever. In 2013 Fairfax Media engaged a company in Little Rock, Arkansas to digitise their archives. The archive fell into the hands of a court receiver when the scanning company disbanded prior the completing the project. It eventually became owned by a regional Arkansas bank with no interest in holding these photographs. After protracted discussions and negotiations, Los Angeles art dealer Daniel Miller (of Duncan Miller Gallery in Santa Monica, CA) bought the entire collection of vintage photos, with the goal of repatriating these historical documents back to New Zealand.

First test match, Springboks vs New Zealand, 1937.

Amongst the suite of photographs on offer is an on-field image taken during the first test match between New Zealand and South Africa held at Athletic Park, Wellington in 1937. The test match was held in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 45,000 and included winger Donald Gordon Cobden, who less than three years later became the first All Black to die in action in the Second World War.

The collection also showcases archives of ‘The Invincibles’ a nickname given to the 1924–25 New Zealand national team who toured the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Canada between September 1924 and February 1925. The team played 32 games including four test matches, one each against Ireland, England, Wales, and France. They won all 32 games, making them undefeated during this history making tour.

New Zealand rugby team walking through blitzed London, 1945.

Also included in the offering is a rare image of the New Zealand Rugby XV in 1945 walking through Fore Street, one of the principle streets in the City of London which suffered heavily from Nazi aircraft attack. The men are shown walking, hands in pockets, on the eve of their rugby match with England at Twickenham stadium.

Shane Howarth, All Black #939, commentator and coach, spoke on the collection at Eden Park’s Barbarian Club saying “The foundation and history of New Zealand Rugby is here in this collection. Rugby was already quite a big game in New Zealand, but it became huge because of the gentlemen that are here, and you’ve got pictures of these guys playing on fields in New Zealand. Back then, this was really the only way you could see your heroes. Just sit pitch side and hope they get tackled into you.”

Daniel Miller in his Arkansas warehouse.

The online auction was launched this morning and will run until 8pm Monday 12 October giving New Zealanders a rare and exciting opportunity to secure their piece of sporting history and a glimpse of the legendary national heroes that featured.

To view the full catalogue and results, visit: https://bit.ly/3nla1rD

© Scoop Media

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