Yet again this is not the full Victorian issue that I have been promising in my two previous editorials. Our colleagues there have provided so much material by now that we are using some of it to make up a mixed double issue of Victorian and New South Wales material. We have held over till later those Victorian contributions containing references to times that postdate what can only be called the notional appearance date of the present issue of Biblionews.
In this issue we have another nautical contribution from our President, Dr Neil Radford. Readers may remember his contribution to the December 2002 (336th) issue of Biblionews about the book relating to the round-the-world voyage of the good ship S.S. G.Sutherland Dodman, which never took place because the ship was never built. This time it is about the good ship Success which, while it did exist, had a shorter existence and more mundane life than what was claimed in the literature about it.
Our resident expert on SciFi literature, Graham Stone, who has written for us previously at length on his own collection, this time writes about that of David Cohen, a onetime member of the Society in Sydney of whom I for one had never heard. Graham gives us the happy news of the saving of a considerable part of that collection after David’s recent death, but the unfortunate news of the loss of some of it too.
Richard Overell’s account of a Members’ Night meeting in Melbourne gives us an interesting, detailed look at a considerable number of Victorian members and their bibliophilic interests, something that Sydney has not done – at least not for a very long while.
Like archives, ephemera constitute theoretically but a marginal area of interest for a society that takes as its core interest “the art and craft of the book”, as ours traditionally does. However, both these areas are no less vital than books for the recording of aspects of our history and culture that would often otherwise be unrecorded in books of their time and so be lost to us. Jürgen Wegner’s article “Ephemera and talk fest” reminds us of this. Some readers may remember the article “The ephemera collection at the State Library of New South Wales” contributed to the June 1994 (302nd) issue by the talk fest’s organiser, Alan Ventress.
It is in the Reviews section that our non-New South Wales colleagues come into their own.
Jack Bradstreet provides us with a book review that tells us quite a deal about the brothers William and Robert Chambers – especially the latter -, publishers in Edinburgh at a time when Edinburgh was one of the very great publishing centres of the Englishspeaking world, as it is showing signs of becoming again. I am told.
Michael Taffe’s is not in fact a book review but a review of a quite fascinating exhibition bearing right on the art and craft of the book. And I think he is helping to draw Biblionews into the 21st century, for I am sure this is the first time the word “funky” has ever appeared in our journal, especially in an item title!
Because Biblionews is running a full year behind by now, it has been decided to cut our losses and get things more or less up to date by producing this double issue for March-June 2004 and a further double issue for September-December 2004. Also, this present issue is the last one that will be computer-prepared for us by Jeff Bidgood. Jeff and his wife Betty have decided to stand down from all of the many activities they have undertaken for the Society since 1992, including Jeff’s work on our publications, which he began in the later 90s. I take this opportunity to thank them both most sincerely for their enormous assistance to the Society in general and to me in particular over these many years. John Newland has offered to take over the computer preparation of future issues of the journal, beginning with the September-December double issue.