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2007-12, 355, 356, Meetings, Richard Overell, Victorian Branch

Victorian Branch Members’ Night, 2 February 2007

Richard Overell

Each member spoke about a book from their collection.

Nigel Sinnott began by speaking of a book he has published, My twenty years fight in Australia, by Joseph Symes. This was originally published in 1906. When Nigel first came to Australia from England in 1977 he went to the State Library of Victoria to consult The Liberator, a free-thinking journal. It was edited by Joseph Symes, who wrote about his time in Australia in the English magazine, The Freethinker. Nigel scanned the original series of articles and has now published them in book form. The book is available for $2.00.

John Emmerson, the President of the Society, showed a copy of Jus Regium, by Sir George Mackenzie (1684). John had found reference to the author in the series of articles, “Uncollected authors”, in the Book Collector. Sir George Mackenzie was the advocate-general for Scotland in the time of Charles II. His book is an argument for divine right. He began by stressing the importance of monarchy in general and then argued against any attempts to change the succession. The book is dedicated to the University of Oxford.

Richard Travers showed a NSW government report on Docks, with illustrations of the port of Williamstown.

John Young brought a group of books on the Australian travel industry. They show the work of notable poster artists: Under Southern Skies, with illustrations by Percy Tromp; Symphony in a City, a book on Newcastle, with illustrations by Gert Salheim; and a booklet by James Northfield promoting his art studio.

Elvira Aytoun showed a book from her first husband’s collection, Percy’s Anecdotes, 22 vols. bound in 11 (London, 1811). Elvira had with her the volume on “War and pastimes” which included a section on “The origin of turbans”, an extract from Sir Henry Blount’s Voyage into the Levant.

John Hope. Inspired by an article in Biblionews by Michael Aitken on early tourist books about Victoria, especially the references there to books on Lorne, John showed us a book, The Loutit Saga. John’s mother was a Loutit and he helped her produce this book. The family came from Scotland. Captain James Loutit was one of the earliest of the Port Phillip pilots. He was Captain of the Apollo, the first ship to carry grain from London to Geelong. During a storm they were driven into a bay which they named Loutit Bay. Apollo Bay was named after Captain Loutit’s ship.

Wendy Rankin showed us a volume of the 1753 edition of The Spectator. She drew particular attention to paper No. 37 for 21 April 1711, which lists a ladies’ library. It includes among its recommendations Sir Isaac Newton’s Optics, John Locke’s Human Understanding and William Sherlock’s Practical discourse concerning death, Fifteen comforts of matrimony (1706), Mrs Manley’s New Atalantis (1709), and Instructions for country dances.

Peter Williams showed a 1945 pamphlet, The problem of mould growth on books : a paper read before the Book Collector’s Society of Australia, by S L Larnach (Sydney, 1945) He also showed us some 1890s contracts for printing stationery from the Melbourne Harbour Trust records and drew our attention to the steel engraved letterheads.

John Loder brought out some Invincible Press books. Ezra Norton started this imprint in 1944. The printing was done by his Truth and Sportsman newspaper. The early ones reprinted English authors from the 1930s, but the later ones were mostly works of contemporary American writers. John has over 100 of the 125 titles published. Graeme Flanagan in his Australian vintage paperback guide gives an incomplete list. The wrappers were often based on the US designs. Jack Kosky, Walter Stackpoole and Terry Pass were some of the artists. John has been scanning covers in preparation for a book he intends to publish on the series. The National Library of Australia’s copies often have labels obscuring the art-work. He said it is interesting to acquire the US originals to see the variation in cover design.

John Dean showed us some items with famous signatures. The first was a letter from Katherine Hepburn to Alma Figuarola, a Melbourne artist, thanking her for her gift of a painting of an Aboriginal child. Miss Hepburn had visited the Figuarolas for dinner. The other was a card from Jackie Kennedy with a black border, written soon after the death of her husband.

Robert Johnston collects accounts of travel, particularly to Japan. The first item was a brochure advertising the Yamoto Hotel, Mukden (1933). Then we saw A trip to Japan, a pamphlet reprinting an account from the Bacchus Marsh recorder (1957) We were also shown Six months in the east, by M A Terry (Sydney: Dymocks, 1900), and Douglas Sladen’s The Japs at home (1892). Robert asked: “Was this the first use in print of the term ‘Jap’?”

Wal Kirsop showed us a French translation of the life of John Howard, the prison reformer (1796) This was translated by Boulard, a famous book collector. Wal also showed us a 1649 quarto edition of the poems of Malleville, owned by Boulard and Heber, who bought Boulard’s collection and the building in which they were housed, after Boulard’s death. In addition, Wal brought out The Romance of Words, by Ernest Wheatley. It included the bookplate of George Fitzpatrick, which showed Sydney’s Circular Quay. This book was purchased from an op-shop in the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh.

Doug Gunn showed us a copy of the book on Dickens from the “Famous Writers” series and Valerie Mackenzie’s book, Some sentimental links to Early Australian Times.

John Chapman showed Martin Hewitt investigator, by Arthur Morris, with illustrations by Sidney Paget. This was in the vein of the Sherlock Holmes stories during the time of Conan Doyle’s great popularity. It was half-bound in leather, but was probably originally a yellowback. John also showed us a volume bound in full leather with all edges gilt and a crest on the cover. This was a typescript crib on all aspects of life in Queensland, formerly belonging to Sir John Goodwin, the Governor of that state in the 1920s.

Michael Aitken showed us a copy of William Woods’ Visit to Victoria, and read out the description of Daylesford. This was bought at the Antiquarian Book Fair at the Exhibition Building and included, loosely inserted, an invitation to a lecture by Woods back in England to promote his book.

Chuck Fayne began by saying that “Today was the most exciting moment in fifty years of collecting.” He explained that he had purchased a book on bookplates, containing tipped-in samples, at an auction in the US many years ago. He had paid $10, “but would have paid $1000.” It was by Alexander de Rienir, the Spanish equivalent of Alphonse Mucha. While checking on the Internet before coming to the meeting, Chuck had found that his is from an edition of ten copies signed by the author.

Francis Reis showed us a copy of Robert Wood’s Ruins of Syria. Francis is a photographer who is currently doing a project which involves taking photos of scenes in Syria and comparing them to the views by early travellers. He showed us some examples which matched the views in Wood’s book.

Richard Overell showed a copy of a flier promoting the contribution of the Bill Onus’s Australian Aborigines League to the 1951 Victorian centenary, An Aboriginal Moomba “Out of the dark”. Souvenir programme. This was the source from which the word “Moomba” came, later used for the annual Melbourne celebration.

Peter Carwardine showed us a booklet published by The Aeroplane magazine in February 1943, Aircraft indentification: Japanese planes. Peter told us that the top tower on the Prahran Central building was set up for plane spotting during World War II.

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