you're reading...
2011-03, 369, Notes and Queries

Notes & Queries

History of Book Collectors’ Society of Australia

In Notes & Queries (Biblionews 365-366, March-June 2010, p. 66) committee member Dr Michael Hough sought contact with longstanding members to assist in his compilation of a history of the Society, a project initiated by the late Eric Russell in the early 1990s, but not completed due to Eric‘s failing health. Michael has inherited Eric‘s notes (some of which are not very legible) and three draft chapters. Michael would like to hear from members who:
1. were interviewed by Eric with regard to this project;
2. can provide recollections of the early history of the Society;
3. possess documentation about the Society‘s early days, such as a set of BCSA publications, or mentions of the Society in magazine articles; or
4. have information about how the BCSA interacted with other literary societies and community groups of the day.
Please contact Michael Hough PO Box 176 Annandale NSW 2038 or email <mhough@comcen.com.au>.

Australian book collectors

The Sydney Morning Herald (5-6 February 2011, p. 35) carried a review of Australian book collectors: some noted Australian book collectors & collections of the nineteenth & twentieth centuries edited by BCSA member Charles Stitz (Bendigo, NSW [= Vic.?] Bread Street Press with the Australian Book Auction Records, 2010, 322 pp, $95).
The book contains contributions by John Arnold, Nicholas Dawes, Frances Devlin-Glass, John Fletcher, Heather Gaunt, Lionel Gilbert, Kenneth Hince, Cheryl Hoskin, Ann-Mari Jordens, Stuart Kells, Wallace Kirsop, Ian McLaren, Charles Stitz, Lurline Stuart, Peter Tinslay, Jonathan Wantrup and Ian Wilson: several of whom are (or were) BCSA members. We look forward to receiving a review for Biblionews from anyone who might like to send us one! (Note: We don’t have a copy.)

School of Arts library catalogues

Geoff Burkhardt has responded to the editor‘s feedback (Issues 367-368, September-December 2010, pp. 145-7) on his article which was in issues 363-364, September-December 2009): ‘Thank you very much for the Biblionews item regarding the Newtown School of Arts library catalogue. I will add it to my list. It is probably a scarce item as I have been unable to locate it in Libraries Australia. Some of the earlier catalogues never found their way into state libraries or university libraries. Yass Mechanics‘ Institute library catalogue is another one which is not in any of the local, state or university libraries. The only copy I have located is with the Yass Historical Society.’


The multi-faceted Valmai Hankel

Members will recall long time BCSSA member Valmai Hankel‘s article ‘Collecting Books’ in the 65th Anniversary Double Issue 361-362 (March-June 2009) of Biblionews, which was originally in Biblionews 252nd issue (December 1981) when Valmai was Senior Reference Librarian, State Library of South Australia.

Valmai was Senior Rare Books Librarian at the State Library of South Australia when she retired in June 2001. This undated photo of her with some of the library‘s rare wine books accompanied a Sydney Morning Herald article (‘My Career’, 15-16 January 2011, p. 6) by Annabel Ross, promoting librarianship as a viable career.
A profile (‘Valmai Hankel: Passion motivates SA ―treasure‖’) by Julie Paul appeared in the 25/6/09 Stock Journal where Valmai was described as being ‘probably best known for her travels in the outback and her ―other career‖ as an intrepid adventurer.’ Here are some extracts from this article:



Valmai Hankel is a woman of passion. Horses, books, fine wines, outback travel – there are no limits to her interests and her achievements After leaving school, Valmai‘s love of books took her to the State Library, where her impressive career culminated in being in charge of the Rare Books Collection. ‘That interest began in my school years, too,’ Valmai said. ‘We went on a tour to the library to see a special exhibition, and I was just entranced by one book in particular. It was an Italian manuscript from the 13th century, superbly decorated in gold with brilliant blues, reds and greens. It‘s amazing to think that I was eventually going to have it in my care.’
In her library years, Valmai began the now-famous ―white gloves tours‖. ‘I love the feel of books. Not just their content, but how they‘re made, the type of paper and the binding. The white gloves tours allowed people to handle them – after donning the obligatory white gloves – and experience the feel of books that had been made centuries before Australia was even discovered. People on the tour would tell me they didn‘t realise books could be so fascinating, and that was a great joy.’ It was also during the library years that Valmai‘s interest in wine developed ‘. . . When I worked in the Children‘s Library in the late 1950s, [my husband] Dennis, who was librarian there, would sometimes open a bottle of Coonawarra red and we‘d taste it together. It was a completely new experience for me. He also introduced me to some of the great French wines, and I started collecting books about wine and tasting as many different types as I could.’ Valmai‘s knowledge of wine varieties inevitably led to her becoming a much sought-after wine writer and her frequent and entertaining talks on the subject.

Further to Valmai‘s interest in wine and its history, according to the website of the State Library of South Australia: ‘Valmai has been wine writer for the monthly publication, The Adelaide Review, since October 1995, writes a column on wine history for the national magazine, Winestate, and has inaugurated an occasional column, “Oenotypophily”, for the magazine The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal. She firmly believes that wine books from the past have much that is both relevant and entertaining to say to us today, and spends a fair bit of time in both writing and public speaking trying to convince others of this.’
As for the word Oenotypophily, Valmai coined it, and takes it to mean ‘love of wine and print’ to describe her obsession. Say no more!



Comments are closed.


%d bloggers like this: