Anton Teutenberg (1840-1933) NZ

The Supreme Courthouse in Auckland, New Zealand, features the stone carvings of Anton Teutenberg. Anton was Barry’s great grandfather and emigrated to NZ from Germany back in 1866.

Ferdinand Anton Nicolaus Teutenberg was born in Hüsten (Neheim-Hüsten), Westphalia, Germany, on 4th December 1840. He was the son of Franziska Koppeins and Ludwig Teutenberg, who was a gunsmith to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia.

Anton (as he was known) learned his trade as an engraver from his father and served two years as a military conscript. His brother Frederick, said to have been a mercenary who travelled to New Zealand with Gustavus von Tempsky, encouraged him to leave Europe for the South Pacific. On 11 March 1866 Anton, with his sisters, Ida and Franziska, and a nephew, Carl Jansen, left Hüsten for England and New Zealand. They arrived in Auckland on the Rob Roy on 19 July 1866.

Carved Heads

Soon after his arrival, he received a commission to carve heads for the Supreme Court building being erected under architect Edward Rumsey’s supervision. He’d carved a piece of filigree woodwork for the captain of the Rob Roy, who’d shown this work to Rumsey. For 15 shillings a day, he carved six major heads in stone – a medium he had never before handled – and several gargoyles, along with a series of wooden heads for the gallery of the courtroom. He was next invited to sculpt heads for the post office building in Shortland Street but now asked and received 20 shillings a day. He carved 11 heads in stone, five of them Maori, and a line of corbels showing the British Empire’s spread.

Other buildings in Auckland for which he received commissions were:

  • Pitt Street Wesleyan Church, originally opened in 1866, for which he executed about 20 woodcarvings
  • St John’s Wesleyan Church, Ponsonby (1882), where he carved filigree window decorations, an elaborate pulpit and a reredos
  • The Bank of New South Wales in Queen Street (1884), whose 15 lions’ heads were sculpted in stone by him
  • A statue of Britannia for the South British Insurance Company is also attributed to him, as is woodwork in the old Waiwera Hote


The greater proportion of his surviving work, however, is as a medallist. From July 1867, he shared business premises with his brother Karl, a gunmaker, in Wellesley Street East. They later advertised as A. & K. Teutenberg, ‘Engravers, Carvers, Gunmakers, and Naturalists’. They offered to make stamps, dies and presses quickly and in superior style. His best-known piece is the United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand’s five-year long-service medal in silver. He won this contract in 1887 against competition from an English medallist. This was one of many fire service medals and pieces of regalia he produced.

Other work included chemists’ seals and goldmine seals (ingot stamps); agricultural society, art society and other prize medals; company seals; and commemorative medals for events such as the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to New Zealand in 1869; the New Zealand jubilee in 1890; Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee military tournament of 1897; and the Canterbury jubilee in 1900.

Of perhaps greatest interest is a medal in copper that marks the visit to New Zealand in 1875 of the Gazelle, a German warship on a world oceanographic survey. The medal, which he made at his own expense and presented to each crew member, featured a Maori head on the reverse and a German legend on the obverse.

He cut an octagonal halfpenny postal embossing die in 1900 and also made three horse-tram tokens.

Jewellery & Personal Information

The least known of his works is his jewellery pieces. Several of these are now owned by his descendants, and a pair of silver and gold napkin rings are in the Auckland Museum collection. About 1915, he sold his business to W. H. Worrall, a manufacturing jeweller. In addition to his professional work, his interests included insects (which he collected with Karl), pencil sketching and woodworking. He worked with Anton Seuffert, assisting with inlays for some of Seuffert’s fine furniture pieces.

Anton Teutenberg had married German-born Nannchen Nicolai in Auckland on 28 September 1881, and they had three sons. He was naturalised on 3 November 1908. He died in Auckland on 2 October 1933, aged 92, 13 years after Nannchen, who died on 1 February 1920.

As an engraver and medallist, Teutenberg was without peer in New Zealand. His reliefs are always high, his strikings sharp, and his hand engraving remarkable in its fineness and beauty. As a sculptor, he must be especially admired. His heads are lifelike and recognisable; his gargoyles beautifully grotesque. A large collection of material from his workshop, including dies, waxes, tools and test strikes, was presented in the 1960s to the Numismatic Society of Auckland.

… source Wikipedia

Our Experience

We visited the courthouse in Auckland in October 2020 and photographed what we could of Anton’s carving on the exterior of the building. At the time, sadly there was a court proceeding inside so we weren’t allowed to explore for any other works inside.

We hope you’ll find the slideshow interesting. Click on an image, make it full screen, start the show and enjoy!

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