A writing desk used by Janet Frame in Auckland in the 1990s has been installed in her Oamaru childhood home.
The large wooden desk was up for auction at Webb’s in Auckland in December. It was spotted by a member of the Janet Frame Eden Street Trust, which owns and runs the house at 56 Eden St where Frame lived from 1931 to 1943.
Trust chairwoman Chloe Searle said the trustees discussed the matter and all were keen to buy the desk and bring it to Oamaru.
Specific donations were made by trust members when they learned of the plan, she said.
The trust bid online; a trustee already had an account with Webb’s. The desk’s catalogue price was $1000 to $1500, but it sold above that for $1645.
The donations almost covered the sum, Ms Searle said.
The desk, which dismantled into three pieces, was placed in the front room at 56 Eden St by “a few willing helpers” on Sunday morning.
Custodian Lynley Caldwell was delighted to find information and photos verifying its provenance in one of the drawers.
She also found a summary of the information written in felt pen on the underside of the desk’s writing surface.
“It’s really good,” Ms Searle said.
“Even when we’re all dead and gone that will still be there.”
Frame had swapped the desk in 1996 for a full-sized pool table that had taken up too much room in the Avondale house she had moved into. Her friends the McConnells were keen to have a pool table and she needed a writing desk.
The desk had been a retirement gift to Bob McConnell from the Transport Department’s Wellington head office and he had passed it on to his granddaughter, Penny McConnell.
Frame called it the “Penny desk” and gave it back to Penny and Robin McConnell when she shifted to Dunedin at the end of 1997.
Mr McConnell included the provenance letter and photographs when it went to auction.
He gave a donation from the sale to leukaemia research – both his wife Puna and Frame died from acute myeloid leukaemia.