A potted prehistory and early history of the BCSA and Biblionews
The Editorial of the 231st Issue of March, 1976
One year less than thirty years ago, in March 1947, Biblionews, unannounced, and perhaps unwelcome in some quarters because of its lack of distinction, was mailed to members of the Book Collectors’ Society which had already exceeded the life span predicted for it by various individuals— six months, they said, it would last. What they overlooked was that its nucleus was a group of collectors which gathered regularly each Saturday afternoon in the back of Buddy Larsen’s Bond Street bookshop to munch a pie and drink a cup of tea and show off the morning’s trophies—not that they amounted to much in the dark days of World War II. But talk we did and sometimes of a Book Collectors’ Society; but some grew tired of talking and sent out invitations to people we knew who might be interested, inviting them to an inaugural meeting. That was in April 1944.
All went well until towards the end of 1960 when lecture rooms in Sydney were priced out of our range as the old haunts fell before the jackhammers of developers. With a regular meeting place out of the question and for various other reasons, only the survivors of the hard core who once frequented Larsen’s bookshop seemed to be left – and from haunt to haunt they went until a half-dozen or so meet [= met?, BT] in a corner of the cafeteria of the State Library of NSW on Saturday afternoons.
The Victorian Branch from its inception has carried on, so that it might be said there has been no time at which the Society was non-existent.
As for Biblionews, now entering its third phase it has joined those journals whose chequered careers are a feature of Australian magazines. It has wilted for lack of contributions, time and finance but editorial optimism dies hard. It is hoped that 1976 will see its reappearance as a regular quarterly.
Collectors seeking complete files should follow the serial numbers rather than volumes, parts and dates. For their information the sequence is as follows:
First Series 1947–1964 Nos 1–214
Second Series 1966–1972 215–230
All parts of the First Series are out of print but a number of the Second Series are still available.