The traditonal end-of-year Show & Tell meeting held at the Turramurra Uniting Church was the Society’s last meeting to be held in that venue before its move in 2007 to a central one in the premises of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, at 145 Macquarie Street, Sydney. Members present at the meeting expressed their thanks to Immediate Past President Janet Robinson and her husband Gordon (winner of last year’s Show & Tell) for making the Turramurra venue available so readily and for so long, when the venue organised by Betty and Jeff Bidgood in Ryde became, after some years, no longer available.
As Acting President, Brian Taylor chaired the meeting and provided the traditional prize. Ten of the members present “showed & told”.
John Newland showed a book in whose production he had been involved, namely A Railwayman’s Journey, an autobiography of Denny Ellis. Ellis gave up the family farm and took a job as a gatekeeper with the NSW Government Railways, later becoming a shunter and finishing as Chief Train Controller. The book contains much technical information as well as yard and other diagrams. As it turned out, Gordon Robinson was able to tell us that Denny was a member of the Turramurra church and that Denny possesses a quite phenomenal memory.
Mark Ferson showed a number of books on bookplates. First was Wilbur Macey Stone’s Some Children’s Bookplates: an Essay in Little (Gouverneur New York: Brothers of the Book, 1901). The book is beautifully printed with fine illustrations. He observed that bookplate enthusiasts often commissioned bookplates for their children as an excuse to add a bookplate to their collections.
The second item was The New Zealand Ex Libris Society. Brochure No. 2 (Wellington, 1933). Mark said that the famous Australian bookplate promoter P Neville Barnett had tried to set up a branch of the Australian Ex Libris Society in New Zealand in the late 1920s, but without success, and was somewhat irritated when the New Zealanders set up their own Society, although he remained in touch and continued to encourage their activities. Maori motifs are prominent in many New Zealand bookplates, especially those designed by Hilda Wiseman.
The next book shown was one in French from Belgium: Alexis C Roose, Victor Stuyvaert (Bruges: A G Stainforth, 1951), which reproduced many intricate and beautiful wood-engravings, including some bookplates. Stuyvaert had some connection with Australia, and in 1927 produced a design for John Lane Mullins.
And as the fourth item, there was Bookplates: a Selection from the Works of Charles R Capon (Portland, Maine: Anthoensen Press, n.d.) listing designs spanning the period 1910-1950. Some of the bookplates here are designed in type and Mark pointed out that he is interested in typographic bookplates from around the world as well as Australian pictorial designs.
Helen Kenny told us that she became a journalist on The Women’s Weekly magazine just after the end of World War II and there met such then or later luminaries as the poet Hugh McCrae and the cartoonist George Sprod, who had returned from the Japanese prison camp at Changi and as a cartoonist became quite satirical about war. In 1946, not long after returning to Australia, Sprod illustrated an article that Helen had written as a test piece for the Sydney Morning Herald about Cronulla Beach, and a few years later another piece of hers written for The Women’s Weekly satirising English schoolgirl stories.
Helen showed a copy of Sprod’s Bamboo Round My Shoulder: Changi— the Lighter Side (Kenthurst NSW: Kangaroo Press, 1981), which contains the dedication: “For Helen but for whom…. George Sprod 1981”. She showed, too, his When I Survery the Wondrous Cross (Dee Why NSW: Quincunx Press, 1989) about Sydney’s Kings Cross area with anecdotes about its famous/infamous characters such as Rosaleen Norton and “Sticky Sloane” (who may or may not have been Sprod himself).
Richard Blair showed a work by a former member of our Society, Dr George Mackaness, Bluebloods of Botany Bay: A Book of Australian Historical Tales (London/Sydney: Collins, 1953), about the early days of the colony (events such as the Battle of Vinegar Hill and persons such as John Hunter), which, he said, was now selling for between $12 and $60. He gave a short biography of Mackaness, who, he said, by the 1960s had built up the largest collection of Australiana in the country.
Richard read out a typed letter from the Australian literature specialist Colin Roderick to Mackaness written from “Lower George Street, 23/9/1953”, which appeared on the inside back cover. There seemed to be some mystery about this, and discussion ensued about whether the letter was indeed part of the printed book—if so why on the back cover?—or an original pasted on—if so why typed on the cover if it was Roderick’s own copy? One suggestion made was that it might have been Roderick’s way of keeping his own copy of the letter. The letter says in part: “Thanks to the kindness of your publishers, I’ve spent a most enjoyable evening with your Blue Bloods of Botany Bay. And I like ’em, the whole rascally lovable hypocritical blasphemous crew.”
Doug Mackenzie showed The Australian Ladies’ Annual of 1878, but he told about it in his article “A Work in Progress” in this year’s March issue of Biblionews, so it will not be further dealt with here.
Graham Stone, our science fiction expert, showed two editions of H G Wells’s The Time Machine (which, he said, was “111 years old but as fresh as ever”): the first edition later issue, and a Random House 1931 edition, which he had rebound many years ago, replacing the original boards with a brown kangaroo quarter binding; this has coloured illustrations by W A Dwiggins, which Graham described as “wishy-washy”.
He also showed The Man Who Loved Morlocks (Melbourne: Hyland House, 1981) by the Brisbane academic David J Lake, illustrated by Steph Campbell; this was intended as a sequel to The Time Machine, one of a few attempts by various writers. Incidentally, Dr Lake also wrote two continuations of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars series: The Gods of Xuma, and Warlords of Xuma (New York: DAW, 1978 and 1983).
Neil Radford opened by referring to his article “The Convict Ship Success” in the March 2004 issue of Biblionews and reprised the article briefly, including the fact that the Guide Book to this ship which was rather fraudulently exhibited around the world contained advertisements for various souvenirs made from it. This was connected with the fact that in 1912 the British Board of Trade refused to allow it to go to the USA after purchase because it was unseaworthy unless the copper bottom was replaced. The souvenirs offered for sale were purported by the owners to be made from this “copper from 1790” (when, in truth, the ship had been built as late as 1840). Neil said that at the time of writing his article, he had never seen any such souvenirs, but in the meantime he had, for $27 via eBay, managed to obtain one, a copper teaspoon, which he then showed—as a non-book exhibit.
Janet Robinson opened by saying that she had come into the possession of a medal awarded to an uncle who had fought at Gallipoli and this had inspired her interest in books on medals, four of which she proceeded to show along with her uncle’s medal. The first was Peter Duckers, The Victoria Cross (Risborough UK: Shirp Publications, 2005), then came VC.GC: Illustrated Handbook of the Victoria Cross and George Cross([London]: Imperial War Museum, 1970), and Lionel Wigmore in collaboration with Bruce Harding, They Dared Mightily, 2nd ed. revised and condensed by JeffWilliams and Anthony Staunton (Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 2000), the 1st ed. having appeared in 1986. Finally there was the UK’s Dennis Pillinger and Australia’s Anthony Staunton’s self-published Victoria Cross Locator, printed by Highland Press, Queanbeyan NSW, 1991.
Gordon Robinson, the winner of last year’s Show & Tell, handed around samples of linocuts and woodcuts, including of Lionel Lindsay, and showed books relevant to his theme. One item shown was a photocopy of a peacock woodcut, at which point Neil Radford said that he had an original of it which was so beautifully done it was as if a light shone through it and that Lionel Lindsay in old age had said that he did not know how he could have done such delicate work.
Gordon then showed the relevant books. There was G W Lennox Paterson’s Making a Colour Linocut (Leicester UK: Dryad, n.d.), Henry Lawson’s The Romance of the Swag, with woodcuts by Lionel Lindsay (Sydney: Ure Smith, 1974), Nicholas Drafin’s Australian Woodcuts and Linocuts of the 1920s and 1930s (South Melbourne: Sun Books, 1976) and the pamphlet What is an Original Print? A Guide to the Process and Techniques of Original Printmaking (Paddington NSW: Joseph Lebovic Gallery, n.d.).
Brian Taylor showed a copy of M W MacCallum’s Studies in Low German and High German Literature (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co, 1884), which he had recently bought for $10 from a bookshop in Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains of NSW. It needed to be pointed out that the title did not imply that these were studies of vulgar and highbrow German literature, but rather studies of literature in the Low German dialects of the flat northern area of Germany and in the High German dialects—and standard language—of the more mountainous southern area.
Brian said this acquisition was a thrill for him for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the book contained a chapter “Hans Sachs and the Mastersong”, which was, as far as he knew, the first study ever in English of the genre of German master-song (known of nowadays mainly because of Richard Wagner’s 1868 opera about the mastersingers of Nuremberg), which he himself had been researching and publishing on for decades.
Secondly, the copy in the Sydney University library, which he had once borrowed and used, had in the meantime disappeared.
Thirdly, the Scot Mungo W MacCallum later in the decade, 1888, emigrated to Australia to become Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Sydney and later its Vice-Chancellor (not to mention his becoming, too, the progenitor of a series of somewhat famous Australian Mungo MacCallums). Fourthly, a front endpaper contains the manuscript dedication: “To my dear wife, M.W.M.C.”,making it a nice association copy.
Brian also mentioned that he had bought from the same Mt Victoria bookshop on the same day English Literature from “Beowulf” to Bernard Shaw. For the use of schools, seminaries and private students by Professor F. Sefton Delmer (20th ed., Berlin: Weidmannsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1937), but had been unable to find it to bring to the meeting (though it has since been found). He pointed out that, for the Society, the interest of the book lay in the fact that John Fletcher had written a biography of this author in Frederick Sefton Delmer: From Hermann Grimm and Arthur Streeton to Ezra Pound, published by the BCSA in 1991 as Studies in Australian Bibliography No 33. Frederick Sefton Delmer (1864-1931) was a Tasmanian, who, after teaching at Sydney Grammar School and South Melbourne College, transferred to Berlin in Germany in 1900 (never to return to Australia) and taught English literature at that city’s Humboldt University.
Two children were born to him and his Australian wife, Mabel, in Germany: Denis (Tom) Sefton-Delmer, later famous for his part in Britain’s psychological warfare effort against the Germans in World War II, and Margaret M Sefton Delmer, who later came to live in Australia and for whom John wrote the book.
It was, unfortunately, not completed before she died, but because of John’s unstinting care for this unmarried lady in her old age, she had left to the University of Sydney a large sum of money for a travelling scholarship for students of German in memory of her father and named after him. (Brian mentioned in passing that she had once told him that she was asked by the abdicated Kaiser Wilhelm, at the time in exile in Holland, to tutor his children in English, but she had declined because she “didn’t like the family”.) The first edition of Sefton Delmer’s book had appeared in 1910. Brian’s copy was certainly used, as it contains pencil marking, mainly around the section on poetry, as well as notes scribbled on slips of paper written in the old German (Sütterlin) script, so from before World War II.
Then came the need to decide whose presentation should be considered the most interesting. Instead of this being decided by the President, as used to be the custom, the new procedure introduced by last year’s Acting President on the day, Neil Radford, was adopted for this day and, it is to be presumed, for the future, namely a secret vote was taken of all present. In the event, Mark Ferson and Doug Mackenzie received the same number and so tied. To break this deadlock, as there was only one bottle of the traditional beverage present, all of their votes were put into a hat and one was drawn out by one of our visitors, Wilma Garnett, who a few minutes later became a member. The result was that our Secretary/Treasurer Mark went home clutching not only her newly paid subscription, but also the bottle of wine.