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2011-06, 370, Editorial, Richard Blair


AS REPORTED IN THE MARCH 2011 issue of Biblionews (369), immediately following the AGM in Sydney on 4 December 2010, a Special General Meeting was held to discuss and approve changes to the 1944 Constitution, which required updating. The revised Constitution was unanimously adopted with effect from that date. It was decided to reproduce the revised Constitution in Biblionews and that document appears in this issue, making it considerably larger than the usual single issue. The Constitution occupies the central eight pages for ease of location. One point of clarification is that the Book Collectors’ Society of South Australia is a separate entity to BCSA such that the revised Constitution does not apply to BCSSA members.

Talks to the Society have long been a prime source for articles and this issue features two such talks. Melbourne members were privileged to hear a talk in March 2011 by Charles Stitz on the recently published work which he compiled and edited: Australian Book Collectors. Not only does this book contain contributions from several illustrious contributors (including BCSA members), but it focuses on ‘the lives and fascinating collecting careers of more than a hundred bibliophiles during the first two completed centuries of Australia’s history.’ Charles has included for the present article additional potted biographies from the entries in his book, including Harry Chaplin, John Fletcher and Walter Stone. The article is accompanied by several bookplates used in the book.

The second was one of two talks given in Sydney in March and June 2010 by Bruce Preston (part two will appear in the September issue). Bruce’s talk includes a potted history of the evolution of the book and the development of printing with reference to the range of non-print devices that have come on to the market in recent years. Bruce also discusses print-on-demand and demonstrates his first hand experience with his novel The Lion and the Covenant. This trend towards non-print devices replacing books may be viewed as anathema to book collectors, but wide-spread bookshop closures bear testimony to this reality and it was felt justified to learn more about the recent trends. Of course, since Bruce’s talks there have been further developments and refinements in the devices available, such being the rapid advances in technology.

Another recent talk to Melbourne members is the subject of author, John Hoyle and his An annotated bibliography of Australian domestic cookery books 1860s to 1950. However rather than reproduce John’s talk, we have a comprehensive review article by Doug Mackenzie wherein two earlier cookery works of bibliographic interest are also cited. Doug has clearly studied this work very closely pointing out that the author has ‘produced a very reader-friendly book’. Brian Taylor, who is very well acquainted with past issues of Biblionews, has alerted me to items about cook(ery) books in the Notes & Queries sections of Issue 359, 139f., about the Australian Cookbook Collectors Society and of Issue 360, 191f., on the question ‘Cook Book or Cookery Book?’

Because of the aforementioned decision regarding central placement of the Constitution, as a one-off, the book reviews have been relocated such that they follow the Stitz article. One advantage of this is that the first review, by Colin Steele, is of Eileen Chanin’s biography of David Scott Mitchell coupled with the Stitz book. Another review, on The letters of Sylvia Beach, focuses on an important phase in 20th century literary Paris. Act One closes with an enlivening account of Colin’s visit to the Back to Booktown event at the Victorian town of Clunes in May.

There is an obituary on the late Bob Gould, a colourful character, who ran a string of second hand bookshops for over 40 years in Sydney’s Inner West. Notes & Queries features blurb about National Bookshop Day; reference queries from Charles Stitz; a further follow-up item by Brian Taylor to his article (March-June 2010, 365th-366 double issue) on Liesel Künzler with ‘Another piece of the Liesel Künzler jigsaw comes to light’; and a memo from the president, Chris Nicholls, regarding some views expressed at the SGM in December 2010.

As the Society could no longer hold its Sydney quarterly meetings at Summer Hill, we were privileged to meet instead in the Victoria Park Room of the University of Sydney’s Fisher Library for our meeting of 3 June. We are grateful to the Librarian, John Shipp, for arranging this alternative venue for us. Our guest speaker, Lindsay Payne, presented a talk on William Hardy Wilson, and showed some splendid works written by and about this eminent early 20th century architect. Lindsay’s talk will be published in a forthcoming issue of Biblionews. It was very pleasing to have Queensland member Chris Tiffin present. I might add that members from outside Sydney are always welcome at meetings and directions to the venue can be obtained from the Secretary, Dr Mark Ferson. Our September AGM will be held in the Victoria Park Room, but it remains unclear what our permanent meeting venue will be.

We welcome two new members to the Society: Georgia Cummings of Elanora, Queensland; and Peter Andrew of St Kilda East, Victoria.

Richard Blair



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