The Melbourne book collecting community was saddened to hear on Easter Monday of the death of Ian McLaren. Ian had been one of the founders of the Society in Victoria and was one of the last of the collectors on a grand scale. He will be remembered for his numerous bibliographies, particularly the major multi-volume set on Australian discovery and exploration and the bibliographies of C.J. Dennis, Marcus Clarke et.al. His bibliographies of the Whitcombe & Tombs storybooks are great favourites among the collectors of children‘s books. His library was acquired by the Baillieu Library at Melbourne University. There will be a full obituary a coming edition of Biblionews.
The book auctions held recently by the triumvirate of Barbara Hince, Nick Dawes and Jonathan Wantrup have been very successful. It was well-publicised that a first edition of Winnie the Pooh went for $3000 at the first of these and was a world record. The highlight of the second auction was a set of Flinders which sold for $50,000. Another auction is scheduled for 28 June, to beat the GST (Goods and Services Tax), and yet another will be held in October.
Two bookshops in Prahran have closed recently, Dr. Syntax and Elizabeth Campbell. Dr. Syntax was established by Nick Dawes in the late 1980s as a remainder bookshop, but in recent years it had moved to the vacated premises of Grants Bookshop and Nick had stocked with a wide range of second-hand paperbacks. Grants had moved elsewhere in Prahran to Carlton Street. The Dr. Syntax stock was sold to Noel Fuller, a bookseller at Lorne.
Elizabeth Campbell‘s shop in Greville Street closed early this year. Elizabeth specialised in local history, but she also had a very good general collection, especially of literature. Before selling much of the general stock for reduced prices at a closing-down sale, Elizabeth removed her best quality material. She will continue to trade, selling over the Internet from her new base at Lara, outside Geelong. Noel Fuller was a major buyer of Elizabeth‘s stock at the sale.
There is an exhibition at present at the Monash University Library of items from their Rare Book Collection. The theme is ‘Early Australian History’. The books on display include many of the titles favoured by Australiana collectors. There is a detailed catalogue and for those with access to the Internet, there is a ‘virtual exhibition’ available on the Monash Rare Books home page. In fact, all of the Monash Exhibitions for the past several years are there. You can read the catalogues and view many of the exhibits in full colour. A related Australiana exhibition on the Monash website is ‘Early Images of the Australian Aborigines’.
The Baillieu Library at Melbourne University has an exhibition on Australian pulp fiction (Carter Browns etc.). There is a detailed, well-illustrated catalogue available from the Curator, Ian Morrison. This is also up on the Internet.