IT HAS LONG BEEN a tradition with the Society in Sydney that the final meeting for the year is a Show and Tell Meeting, where members bring one or more items of bibliophilic interest and speak to it/them. Attached to this tradition is the further one: that the President of the day judges which is the most interesting presentation and rewards the winner with a gift, which usually takes the form of a bottle of wine provided by the President.
Unfortunately, this year our new President, Janet Robinson, was ill and unable to attend and chair her first meeting in this role, so it was taken over for the day by our Immediate Past-President, Dr Neil Radford. Janet did, however, send along the traditional present.
The following were at least some of the items shown and spoken to.
Acting President Neil Radford showed a copy of the 1st edition of Henry Handel Richardson’s The Way Home (London 1925), signed by the author, “which I bought at a reduced price because the bookseller said: ‘Someone has written their name in it!’.”
Secretary/Treasurer Mark Ferson passed around a copy from 1967 of The Man from Snowy River from Jacaranda Press in an edition of 2000 with typographic design and original linocuts by Derrick Stone.
Brian Taylor had a copy of Nikolaus Pevsner’s 1945 King Penguin The Leaves of Southwell [Minster], purchased at the recent Chancellor’s Committee Book Fair at Sydney University and so an addition to those King Penguins listed in his article in the June 2005 issue of Biblionews.
A provenance is indicated by a bookplate inside the front cover and a rubber stamp on the title page, namely that it was a gift of The British Council to its library in Djakarta (sic), Indonesia.
Helen Kenny was going to bring several suede-bound books that had belonged to her mother, including The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, but was so concerned not to forget to bring the asparagus rolls she had made for the following afternoon tea that she forgot the books, to which she spoke, sight unseen, anyway.
Gordon Robinson showed a book on food at sea, its preparation, preservation etc—an area of special interest to him—which he further illustrated by showing a couple of unpleasant looking ship’s biscuits bearing on their packaging the warning that injudicious attempts to bite into them could lead to dental problems.
Jeff Bidgood had a wartime book by Fred Bason on how children could make model toys out of bits of cardboard, matchboxes etc, presumably to keep them quiet while they were in an air raid shelter. He also showed two signed photos of Bason, who was a friend of his.
Richard Blair showed a copy of Charles Dickens’s story “Gone Astray”, as published in 1912 in book form with sketches and photographs of places passed through by Dickens in the story as a boy; it had originally been published in Household Words almost sixty years earlier, in 1853.
Doug MacKenzie passed around cookery books and other volumes, including a magazine about the San Francisco earthquake and fire and a Century Dictionary & Encyclopedia, from various lots recently purchased at a Lawson bric-a-brac auction sale, along with a list that he had made of the lots he bought with the prices obtained. This led to a discussion and criticism of the auctioneer’s impost of 19.5%, which all present considered excessive.
Graham Stone showed and demonstrated the workings of an old (Victorian?) children’s book with clever revolving pictures which each changed to another picture when a silk tape was pulled.
John Newland had two large-format books with whose publishing he had been involved by the laying out, preparing the plans and the illustrations for printing. One was about the Brown Brothers colliery lines of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the other about the first decade of the building of Sydney’s rail lines in the 1850s.
The Acting President departed from tradition to the extent that he got all members of the audience to cast a secret vote on whose they thought was the most interesting presentation, and Gordon Robinson was subsequently declared the winner. Since Gordon happens to be the husband of the new President, the prize returned to 20 Gilroy Road, Turramurra.
Brian Taylor, with the assistance of several members