Sixtieth Anniversary Catalogue from Gaston Renard,
Fine and Rare Books
Neil A Radford
LAST YEAR (2005) marked the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the firm Gaston Renard, one of Australia’s best known and respected fine and rare book dealers. The business began in Brisbane in 1945 and moved to Melbourne in 1948. Renard’s first catalogue was issued in that year, and in September 2005 Julien Renard, the founder’s son, issued Catalogue 385, A Select Miscellany of books offered for sale to mark the 60th Anniversary.
The Catalogue is arranged thematically, with a good index, and captions and notes to most entries explain why the item appealed to the compiler, who hopes “that some of my enthusiasm may rub off and help to kindle or renew the enthusiasm of you, our valued customers.” There are many illustrations, and an intelligent and well-informed commentary on many items. This is the sort of catalogue which deserves to become a standard reference.
All 262 items are, in some way, choice and special, and of course desirable. To mention but a few: Amundsen’s The South Pole (1912) is inscribed and signed by Edgeworth David, who was a member of Mawson’s expedition in 1911-14. Haweis’ A Missionary Voyage to the Southern Pacific Ocean... (1799) comes with a letter from Joseph Banks commenting on it. Collectors of whaling voyages to the South Pacific will be interested to see the very rare Four Years Aboard the Whaleship by Whitecar (1860). Several choice items relating to the mutiny on HMS Bounty include Hamilton’s very rare A Voyage Round the World in His Majesty’s Frigate Pandora (1793). The first three editions (1789) of Tench’s A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, plus other associated material, are offered as a collection.
The extra material included in the Tench collection relates to Julien Renard’s “Edition Renard” project to re-publish important items of Australiana which was the subject of an article in the September-December 2004 Biblionews, based on his address to the Victorian branch of the Society. Several other Edition Renard items are included in this anniversary catalogue, in both book form and on compact disc.
Gaston Renard, who passed away in 1990, would surely be pleased and proud of this anniversary catalogue. Interestingly, he would have recognised several of the items in it as being the exact copies which had passed through his hands in earlier years. The original prices are not given, but even he may have been surprised by the extent to which really rare and choice Australiana has increased in value since he issued his first catalogue sixty years ago.