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2010-06, 365, 366, Richard Blair

December 2008 Sydney ‘Show and Tell’ Meeting

THIS END-OF-YEAR Show & Tell meeting coincided with our inaugural meeting at our new venue, Summer Hill Community Centre in Smith Street Summer Hill on Saturday 6 December 2008. The Show & Tell component of the meeting followed our deferred AGM, coverage of which appeared in the March-June 2009 issue. Show & Tell was chaired by incoming president Richard Blair, and the winner was selected by popular ballot. Helen Kenny won the ceremonial bottle of wine.

Helen was unable, owing to illness, to provide an account of her contribution. Also, assistance given to her during her time in hospital to pack up some possessions in her apartment resulted in her not being able to find the books again for someone else to give a precise account of what she showed and told about. She showed several early books about the Australian Aborigines, and their lan-guages. Included was the Rev LE Threlkeld‘s An Australian Grammar, Comprehending the Principles and Natural Rules of the Language, As spoken by the Aborigines in the Vicinity of Hunter’s River, Lake Macquarie, &c New South Wales (Stephens & Stokes, Sydney, 1834).

Shirley McGlynn, who was once the Sydney Customs House librarian, showed Albert Searcy‘s In Australian Tropics, 3rd ed. (George Robertson & Co., Sydney, 1909). The book has 55 b/w illustrations and a fold-out map. Shirley said that Searcy had been Subcollector of Customs at Port Darwin in the Northern Territory, though at the time of publication of his book he was Clerk Assis-tant of the House of Assembly in Adelaide, South Australia.

Two extended accounts by John Newland and Frances Carleton follow; after that, Show and Tell coverage by Brian Taylor, Richard Blair, Mark Ferson and an illuminating slice of BCSA ephemera unearthed by Doug McKenzie.

Richard Blair:

The Companion to Theatre Australia (Currency Press, Sydney 1995, p. 275) describes Edmond (known as Eddie) Samuels as “a well known Sydney character, [who] was a pharmacist by profession but preferred to think of himself as an author, playwright, composer, poet and philosopher.” I have two books by Edmond Samuels (1895-1973). The first is his autobiography, If the Cap Fits (Modern Literature Co., Sydney, 1972) which traces Eddie‘s career, graduating from the University of Sydney as a pharmacist and between the wars run-ning a pharmacy and head-ache bar in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, which was considered the most modern and up-to-date pharmacy in Sydney. His Famous Cough Linctus and Theatrical Melody Cold Cream were used by many theatre professionals while his Headache Bar enjoyed an international reputation.

American servicemen visiting Eddie Samuels’ Headache Bar during World War II

A composer of popular songs, in 1935 Eddie wrote The Highwayman, a musical set in the Bendigo goldfields in the 1860s. He took the show to London where it was changed considerably and renamed At the Silver Swan. Performed at the Place Theatre, it was the first musical with an Australian setting to be produced in London. In the late 1940s he revived The Highwayman in Sydney and Melbourne where “it received almost unanimous praise from the Melbourne critics in spite of – or perhaps because of – its naive, old-fashioned qualities.”

He was acquainted with many notable people including Ben Chifley. The book is rather idiosyncratic with his homespun philosophy and anecdotes of people he knew.

Among his other books were An Illustrated Diary of Australian Internment Camps (1917), Queer Crossroads (1931) and a novel Why Not Tell? (1934). My copy of Queer Crossroads (First Autographed Edition 1931; Second Edition 1932) is a book of verse and maxims, described in the press reviews as “a symposium of prose and verse”. The book is dedicated to ‘my father and mother and to at least three proven friends, whom I shall simply name – 1, 2 and 3.”

Eddie was a man of clearly high ideals with unselfishness, fellowship, and friendship deeply valued. In the preface to one verse The Lady of the Rose, Eddie wrote: “This verse was written and sent with a beautiful Red Rose, to Miss Gladys Moncrieff, who was playing the title role of The Lady of the Rose at the Theatre Royal, Sydney.” The publisher and printer was Central Press, Sydney; the hardcover book is nicely crafted with rough-cut pages. My copy contains a letter written on pages of the book from Helen Pura, who wrote: “This wonderful contribution to the Arts was given me in London, if my memory serves me correctly, in 1935: Hyde Park London near Rotten Row.”

Helen Pura gave it to her friend, Roderick Mackay, of Potts Point, in July 1975; Roderick, formerly of Marrickville, but now in a nursing home and in his nineties, gave it to me.

Mark Ferson:

People tend to expect me to talk about bookplates so I have decided not to disappoint you this year and have brought some bookplates along. We tend to think of a bookplate as being a label pasted into a book to denote ownership, but interestingly one definition includes original and individual designs drawn or painted directly into the book: these are known as manuscript bookplates.

There are also what might be referred to as intermediate forms, which are labels which have been decorated by hand and then stuck into the volume. I have brought along some books which have manuscript bookplates drawn into them, a flyleaf (or endpaper) with a black and white design which I bought at Cornstalk Bookshop in Glebe (Paul Feain always has a few bookplates lying around, in case you are interested) as well as some copies of examples from Jeff Bidgood‘s magnificent and all-encompassing bookplate collection.

Owners included author and historian Margot Hentze (in Mary Webb, The house in Dormer Forest, Cape, London, 1929); Mary Parker (dated 1951, in Herbert Jenkins, The Bindles on the rocks, Jenkins, London, c. 1929); WJ Rock (see illustration); and Tony Rae (in Frank H Shaw, Stirring deeds of Britain’s naval might, Harrap, London, 1940; also with Scots College, Sydney, plate marking Dr George Bell‘s Prize awarded to AJM Rae, form 2A for 1st in Physics, 12 December 1941). Although I had not yet managed to find anything out about Rae, our Treasurer Darel Hughes observed that Rae was a distin-guished Scots old boy and had been headmaster of Newington College (1972-93).


At our 2008 Show & Tell Doug McKenzie produced this gem of an early BCSA flyer advertising a “Members Night” on Friday 25 October 1946 which he’d found inside an acquisition. It was signed by H.F. Chaplin, President and C.B. Berckelman Hon. Sec. & Treasurer. This was quite likely the Society’s inaugural Show & Tell.

Sydney Show & Tell group on Saturday 6.12.08 at Summer Hill Community Centre left to right front row: Graham Stone, Vicki Nicholls, Helen Kenny, Shirley McGlynn; middle row: Mark Ferson, Stephen Szabo, Brian Taylor; standing: Don Ralston, Richard Blair, Chris Nicholls, Doug McKenzie, Darel Hughes, Ron Ward & John Newland (photo: Frances Carleton).




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