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Horatio Robley, seated with his collection of severed heads of Maori people. Photograph by H. Stevens, 190-.

  • Stevens, Henry, 1843-1925
1895 [i.e. between 1900 and 1909?]
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About this work


"The most gruesome offerings [auctoned by Henry Stevens] were shrunken human heads, sold by Stevens on several occasions, the most remarkable being, in 1902, the collection of thirty-three tattooed Maori heads, the property of General Robley, who, it is said, decorated his bedroom wall with these relics and 'when unable to sleep at night would rise and comb his Maoris' hair, and felt himself soothed' (Allingham, 204-5). " (Michael P. Cooper, 'Stevens family (per. c.1830-1925)', Oxford dictionary of national biography, Oxford 2004). The accuracy of Allingham's account is questionable


[London?] : [H. G. Robley?], 1895 [i.e. between 1900 and 1909?]

Physical description

1 photograph : photoprint ; sheet 18.4 x 21.4 cm


Note the 15th head has its portrait in oils (Collection Donne). This collection increased to 35 specimens offered to N.Z.d for years. Visited by Maoris over for coronations of King Edward and King George, also Victoria's Jubilee. 1895 photograph and a duplicate larger

References note

E. G. Allingham, A romance of the rostrum, being the business life of Henry Stevens together with some account of famous sales (1924), pp. 204-205
K. Arnold and D. Olsen, Medicine man: the forgotten museum of Henry Wellcome, London 2003, pp. [240-241]

Lettering note

Bears extensive lettering inscribed on mount at different periods
"Collection Donne": collection of T.E. Donne, assistant to the High Commissioner of New Zealand


Wellcome Library no. 664088i


  • English

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