Report of the Acting President for the Annual General Meeting of the Book Collectors’ Society of Australia to be held at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians at 1.30pm on Saturday,1 September 2007.
OVER THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS the life of the Society has continued to be quite healthy. The reintroduction of subscriptions— for the first year $20, but from now on $30—led inevitably to a shaking out of our numbers and to establishing just who continued to wish to be a member of the Society and to pay to be one. Among the previous members who now dropped away, there were those who had died, those who had become too old or ill, those who told us they no longer wished to be a member, perhaps because they had disposed of their collections, and those who did not reply. The loss of these members has been somewhat compensated for by the arrival of a number of new members, so that the membership is now just over 200 and so quite healthy for a society of our sort in the present-day environment. We continue to have members in all Australian States and Territories and in New Zealand, and as well a number in Europe, mainly Britain, and in North America.
The core activities of the Society in Sydney continue to be the holding of meetings every three months and the publishing of our journal Biblionews and Australian Notes & Queries four times yearly. Clearly, the vast majority of members live outside Sydney and cannot normally attend the meetings, so Biblionews remains the Society’s vital core.
The meetings held this Society year 2006-2007 were in:
September 2006, when the AGM took place and was followed by a talk by John Newland on his collection of “railway-ana”, as Neil Radford has referred to it. Both the results of the AGM and John’s talk were published in the December 2006 issue of Biblionews.
December 2006, when our regular end-of-year Show & Tell meeting was held. It was fully reported on in the June 2007 issue of Biblionews.
March 2007, when the meeting was addressed by Dr Kevin Fewster of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, who spoke about the third edition of his book Bean’s Gallipoli which was to be launched the next week. His talk was published in the June 2007 issue of Biblionews. As members may have read in the newspaper recently, Dr Fewster has now left the Powerhouse Museum and gone to Britain to become, this September, Director of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, which incorporates Greenwich Observatory, so that, as one of his former colleagues said to me, “he is now in charge of time”. It must be a source of pride to us fellow Australians that one of our own can take up such a prestigious position overseas and to our society that, busy as he was, he was prepared to speak to us not so very long before he went. I must here make good a previous omission and thank Darel Hughes warmly for mediating Kevin Fewster’s visit to us.
June 2007, when I myself gave the Society a talk on “By their books ye may (get to) know them”. Part of it should appear in the coming September issue of Biblionews.
While sorting back issues of Biblionews recently it suddenly struck me that in 2007 it has been 60 years since Biblionews was first published and that, while we had in connection with its 50th anniversary belatedly published the celebratory volume Friends of the Book, this time we have so far done nothing. Therefore I have suggested that this meeting be used for that purpose also and have brought along some ersatz champagne to accompany our post-meeting edibles for the purpose of toasting our journal. As well, the September and possibly the December issues of the journal will be treated as anniversary issues.
It has, of course, also now occurred to me that, while in 1997 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Society quite lavishly with a rather posh dinner and the handing out of a couple of life memberships—to Betty Bidgood and the late Enid Moon—we did not even notice the 60th anniversary go by in 2004. To try to compensate for this somewhat, I wish to make two suggestions:
1 That we offer from this meeting life memberships to Suzanne Mourot and Emeritus Professor Gerry Wilkes as the only two surviving members from a list of members of the Society which was compiled in April 1954, so over half a century ago;
2 That we keep an eye on 2009 and think about how we might celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Society in that year, since we’ve missed the 60th.
Finally, thank you to those members of this year’s Committee who have been good enough to respond to my requests for advice and approval when I needed it, either by email or by snail mail.
Brian Taylor 30 August 2007