AS INDICATED in my Acting President’s Report to the September Annual General Meeting published in this issue, this is the year for us to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the publishing of the first issue of Biblionews in March 1947. The AGM decided that the celebration should take three forms:
1. A toast to the journal at the meeting itself;
2. the publication of a celebratory issue of the journal; and
3. the offering of life membership to the only two people on a list of members from April 1954 that I came across who are still members, namely Miss Suzanne Mourot and Emeritus Professor Gerry Wilkes.
The toast duly took place at the meeting with glasses of wine (ersatzchampagne) or water (mineral), and the two members of longest standing both accepted life membership in their answers to the letters of offer I wrote to them.
I was keen that any celebratory issue of the journal should reflect the breadth of the Society to the extent possible, and so I was gratified that a number of members responded to my appeal in this year’s June issue for contributions, so that New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory could be represented, though I was sorry that I have to date received nothing from the other states, who used to contribute in times past.
Because of the number of contributions in hand, I had thought that I would have to extend the celebration over two issues, but that seemed on reflection rather cumbersome, so I have decided instead to produce a double issue for September and December, and this is it.
In the June 2007 issue I also offered back issues of Biblionews and copies of John Fletcher’s printed index to anyone interested in receiving them, mostly at no cost apart from postage. I am pleased to say quite a number of members took up the offer and have received the issues available. I still have some back-issues on hand and will provide a list of them next year in case there are still people interested in obtaining any. And before leaving the June issue, I must apologise for the grievous misprint in the table of contents on the cover: “Gallopoli” instead of “Gallipoli”. (As my son-in-law, Mathew Fante, said when he overheard me mention the error to his wife (a member): “It sounds like a board game!”) It has, fortunately, not affected adversely the progress of the article’s author, Dr Kevin Fewster, who, as mentioned also in my report, has recently been translated to one of the most prestigious museum jobs in Britain, at the Greenwich Maritime Museum.
The 50th anniversary of Biblionews in 1997 was celebrated by the publication of a now long since out-of-print volume in our Studies in Australian Bibliophily, Fellows of the Book, containing contributions from a large number of members written specifically for the purpose. I have in the present issue published a corrected and updated version of my Introduction to that book. This will enable anyone who has not read the book to gain some sense of what I have called the “physical”—as opposed to the content— development of our journal over the last six decades. However, I have prefaced it with what I have termed a “potted” history of the Society and its journal and one in the very words of the person who was instrumental in the foundation and support of both till his death, Walter Stone. He published this history as the Editorial in the first issue of a Biblionews he revived after its appearance had lapsed for some four years. I thank Committee member Richard Blair for drawing my attention to this useful little item.
Our Secretary, Professor Mark Ferson—who has now dropped the Treasurer part of his title, since Darel Hughes, an accountant by profession, accepted appointment to this role at the AGM—has provided for this issue, as well as his AGM report, an article in his special area of interest, bookplates. (I have not published here my Editor’s report to the AGM, as most of what I had to say comes out anyway in my editorials.)
Jürgen Wegner is a longtime contributor to the journal and is thanked for his item on a small piece of Australiana that he has allowed us to republish from elsewhere.
My own article is a slightly revised version of the first part of my talk “By their books ye may [get to] know them” read to the Society at this year’s meeting on 2 June. The second part will be published in one of next year’s issues.
ACT bookseller Dr Geoffrey Burkhardt, whose catalogues were mentioned in the previous issue, has provided us with an article on a very engaging collecting topic: school histories. This is an area of Australiana collecting that is not well known, but would be one that budding book collectors could well contemplate moving into.
Our Victorian Editor, Richard Overell, has submitted an account of this year’s Members’ Night meeting in Melbourne along with two talks given to that branch of the Society. Richard is accustomed to take notes during such talks, so that I receive them in the third person rather than the first person form that the speaker himself would use. I have let this stand in the case of Douglas Stewart’s talk to their AGM on 13 April this year, largely because of the discussion recorded at the end. In the case of Dr Wallace Kirsop’s 1999 talk, I have, with Richard’s permission, converted it to the first person and fleshed it out with background information that would be needed by our overseas readers. It has been checked by Richard, but I take responsibility for any persisting inaccuracies that may be due to my intervention.
Our prolific ACT reviewer, Colin Steele, has provided us this time with a review article and two reviews. And we have more in the pipeline. As one reader has said: “Bless him!”.
Recommended to your attention are the advertisements from David and Richard Blair, and from Diane Kraal, to whom I very belatedly apologise for the fact that back in Issue 325 of March 2000 we misprinted her name as Krall on the cover. Our cover accuracy seems generally to leave something to be desired.
The Committee took advantage of two functions in September this year to distribute flyers about the Society in order to get us better known and perhaps gain new members: at the University of Sydney Bookfest held in its Great Hall, 15–19 September, and at the 2007 Australian Antiquarian Bookfair conducted by the Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers in the State Library of NSW, 28–30 September. Committee members Richard Blair, Janet and Gordon Robinson, Graham Stone, and Yours Truly turned up to do distributing service. Because the hundreds of flyers left over from earlier campaigns still had on them as the meeting venue the previous one in Turramurra and not the new one in Macquarie Street, Sydney, the last mentioned personage had, unfortunately, to spend many, many hours in advance overstamping the relevant bit of some 1400 copies with the correct information, using a rubber stamp made for the purpose. This may explain why the preparation of this issue of the journal has proceeded rather more slowly than had been hoped.
My thanks go to John Newland for his work on this long double issue, the complex laying out of which he has handled with his usual patience and expertise. I thank also my wife, Isobel, for proofreading assistance.
Finally, the Treasurer’s Report at this year’s AGM in Sydney, which showed a not inconsiderable deficit, made it clear that an increase in our subscription fee is absolutely necessary. The computer preparation, printing and mailing out of Biblionews is by far our greatest expense, especially now that we attempt to have at least one colour issue per year. Members should, therefore, find a subscription invoice with this issue: for $30 Australian in the case of individual members in Australia and New Zealand, with an additional $10 for “rest of world” overseas members to cover the extra cost of postage, and $40 for institutional membership.