Victorian Branch, Members’ Night,
25 January 2008
via Richard Overell
HELD at the Royal Society Building, Melbourne.
Present: 18 members.
Apologies: Warren and Nancye Perry, John Hope, and Mick and Irene Stone.
The President, John Emmerson, began with a 1635 copy of Angel Day’s English secretorie, or, Methode of writing of epistles and letters. This presents model letters, some abusive, some fawning. John explained the importance of such a book. It was first published in 1586 and is an example of a minor work from the time of Shakespeare which throws light on the everyday life of the period.
Elvala Ayton brought some volumes from a ten volume set of Charles Herbert Sylvester’s Journeys through bookland: a new and original plan for reading, applied to the world’s best literature for children. This is an American work, first published in Chicago in 1912. Its purpose was to encourage the child’s interest in reading and, through the extracts chosen, to instruct in good behaviour and build character. The authors selected included all the major figures of English and American literature, including Benjamin Franklin. There are extracts from Poor Richard’s Almanack,
famous for collecting such sayings as “It is hard for an empty sack to stand
Wendy Rankin brought volume 5 (1862) of the Cornhill Magazine. She had purchased forty volumes of this title from the State Library of NSW. The Cornhill was edited by William Makepeace Thackeray. Volume five includes two articles on Australia. One is on a recent election and seems to have been written by the Scottish-born Australian politician Duncan Gillies (1834–1903), who was premier of Victoria from 1886 till 1890. The other,on Australian exploration, is by the British scientist Francis Galton (1822–1911). Thackeray’s “Adventures of Philip” was serialized in this volume, as was “Agnes of Sorrento” by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The volume also
includes some of Dalziel’s pull-out satirical caricatures, entitled, “A Bird’s eye view of society.” Another article of interest is “First beginnings” by a Dr Winter, about the onset of lunacy, similar in its symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease. There was also an article on the Great Exhibition by a contributor named Greenwood, which was critical of it.
Wallace Kirsop showed members a copy of the latest issue of the periodical Script and Print which is devoted to early Australian printing. It contains as one of the articles “Searching for George Hughes” by Dr Kirsop.
One of Wal’s other projects is a bibliography of French dramatist, Jean Rotrou (1609–1650). Wal now has the second largest collection of Rotrou’s works in the world, after the Bibliothèque Nationale. He showed two of his most recent Rotrou acquisitions, one in the original vellum, the other in a 19th century binding.
Peter Williams showed a New Zealand Directory for 1866. This was
printed in Melbourne by Ferguson and Moore and has many Melbourne
advertisements, including one which has an engraving of the Ferguson and
John Holroyd compiled the three volume sale catalogues of the Geoffrey Ingleton collection for Angus & Robertson, but after the main sale there was a series of later sales by Lawsons in Sydney of job and shelf lots. Peter bought several of these lots and showed us an example of one of the items. This was a bound volume of Pasco papers. Crawford Pasco (1818–1898) was the author of an autobiographical work, A Roving Commission (1898). Pasco was a naval man and organised the water police at Victoria’s Williamstown. His book contains much detail on 19th century Australia. His father was the Flag Lieutenant on the Victory at Trafalgar, which interests Peter as he has a relative who was also on the Victory. Ingleton had acquired Pasco’s papers and had them bound into several volumes which now form part of Peter’s collection. They include much on colonial shipping, one of Peter’s interests.
Mike O’Brien, owner of Bradstreet’s Bookshop and a collector of militaria, showed two Australian military items. The first was Citizen to subaltern by AW Hutchins, published by Angus & Robertson in 1916. They published many war manuals and there are advertisements on the back for the titles Hints to young officers and Guard and sentry duties.
Mike also showed a World War II item, A pocket guide to Australia, published by the War and Navy Departments, Washington DC. (1942). Mike suspected this was printed in Australia. It was meant as a guide to US troops stationed here to help them understand the locals. Audience member John Young added that Penguin have just published a reprint of it.
John Chapman began by saying that he had first started collecting Australian stamps as a University student. He showed a copy of a Stanley Gibbons stamp catalogue from 1900. This had an advertisement for a novel which they had just published, The Stamp King. It was being sold as the “First novel about stamp collecting”. The details are: The stamp king by G de Beauregard and H de Gorsse; translated from the French by Miss Edith C Phillips. Eighty illustrations by E Vuilliemin (London: Stanley Gibbons Ltd, 1899). John chased a copy of this book for many years and found it recently at an Antiquarian Book Fair where he bought it from the bookseller Peter Arnold. John had it with him and showed it to the audience.
Bob Johnston showed two Geoffrey Ingleton items, Sea voices (1932), a book of poems by Alan McNicoll; and Sea noises (1933), by JWNB and choir. These were both printed on board HMAS Canberra and were illustrated by Ingleton, under the imprint of the Golden Lantern Press.
“JWNB” was John William Newell Bull. Sea noises was a collection of drinking songs. At the time of writing, the Grisly Wife bookshop has a copy, if anyone wishes to buy it.
Bob also showed us A passing cheer for Auld Lang Syne, by The Durban Signaller. This was published in Durban in 1940 and reprints several of the poems the Durban Signaller (Ethel Campbell) wrote for the Australian troops who called at Durban in South Africa en route to World War I. She was a well-known figure who would stand on shore and use semaphore flags to signal the troops as they sailed into Durban. After the war these Diggers raised money and sponsored her to come to Australia. A passing cheer includes the poem she wrote about her visit, “Poem to Australia 1923.”
John Loder collects Australian detective fiction. He showed us a copy of Norman Lindsay’s novel Mr. Gresham and Olympus, published in New York by Farrar & Rinehart in 1932. He has long had a copy of the book, but one lacking the Norman Lindsay dust-wrapper. It was published in England by Faber in 1932, as Miracles by arrangement, but had a simple printed wrapper, so the US edition is the only one with the Lindsay wrapper. Through searching the internet John has finally been able to find a copy with the wrapper.
When Nigel Sinnott was 19, in 1963, he was told by a friend that he would probably like the poetry of Swinburne. He acquired a Penguin selected edition, which he showed us. Nigel was impressed by Swinburne and bought The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne (6 vols; New York & London, Harper, December 1904). He showed a copy of the first volume which had Swinburne’s signature, when an old man, in a presentation inscription: “F L Leipnik/A C Swinburne”. He was able to tell the meeting that only three hours ago he finally discovered who Ferdinand Leipnik was. He was a Hungarian journalist, living in The Hague and working for the Financial
Times. He was the author of A History of French Etching from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day (London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1924), a friend of George Bernard Shaw and of Theodore Watts-Dunton, who acted as an intermediary between Austria-Hungary and Britain during World War I.
Ian Wilson brought out and placed on the table a single issue of a hitherto unknown Van Diemen’s Land (so Tasmanian) newspaper, the Launceston Journal, No. 6, May 6th, 1839. This had been found by Peter Arnold in a volume of miscellaneous Sydney papers from 1839. It was a broadside format paper of two pages, published once a week, and so typical of newspapers published in Tasmania at that time. The printer was Geoffrey Amos Eagar. Ian has researched Eagar and found that he was active in Sydney in 1826–27, where he printed The Gleaner and Aurora Australis, a volume of verse for the Presbyterian clergyman John Dunmore Lang.
He arrived in VDL in 1830. From 1833 till 1835 he was the proprietor of the Launceston newspaper The Independent, but went bankrupt in 1837. His wife died in Melbourne in 1839. In the same year Eagar was working in Adelaide as a printer, where he entered into an agreement with a Mr Quaife, a Congregational Minister, to set up a press in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. They sailed via Hobart, where they bought a press and a quantity of paper. However, Eagar’s promissory note for £150 was not properly honoured and this resulted in delays and eventually, in 1843, a court case in Hobart. But they were able to sail on to New Zealand and arrived in the Bay of Islands in 1840. Eagar printed the first newspaper there; it lasted six months. He then printed the unofficial New Zealand Government Gazette and, in 1841, the Auckland Chronicle. He returned to NSW and in 1844–46 was the printer of the newspaper for the town of Windsor, the Windsor Express.
John Dean began by speaking of the songsters which were published in the 1940s to early 1970s. The Boomerang songster published by Albert & Son is the most common, but there were many other titles published by Allens or Palings. John had copies of a much earlier Australian songster, the Up To Date song book, published by Massina in Melbourne in 1901. He also showed us some Australian film trade magazines from 1929, when the changeover from silent to talkies was under way, Film Weekly
Michael Taffe told us last year of his interest in collecting Mandrake Press books. He is also interested in collecting the works of other expatriate Australians. Raymond McGrath is known to collectors partly for Seven songs of Meadow Lane, which he printed in Sydney in 1924, aged 19, on John Kirtley’s press, bought when Kirtley moved to London. This is now an expensive item, and Michael has not yet been able to purchase a copy. However, he showed us two issues of the Lady Clare Magazine for
Michaelmas and Lent terms, 1928. McGrath had gone to Cambridge to study, where he was at Clare College and was the editor of their magazine. The issues include manuscript annotations by McGrath. They also have a presentation inscription: “To Roy from Ray.” This refers to fellow architect Roy Grounds.
Michael Aitken showed two primary school readers. The first was Brooks Primer for Australian Schools. Second Primer. This was a NSW schoolbook. D H Souter was the art editor. Michael also has the First Primer. The other item was the Victorian School Reader. First Book (1928).
John Young showed us a recent book which he has written, The school on the flat: Collingwood College 1882-2007, published by the College in 2007. Among the illustrations were some from early text books in John’s collection, including the Victorian School Readers. Another item he showed was a pamphlet, Sin in syndication, bang! bang! A cultural crime wave that menaces Australia!, compiled by the Australian Journalists’ Association and published in Sydney by them in 1947. This was an attack on the invasion of American comics into Australia after they had been banned during the war. This invasion was threatening the livelihood of local artists and writers. The pamphlet lists the US comics available and gives examples of the violence they contain. John bought it at the Big Red Book Fair.
Richard Overell showed a recent publication, The world of the book by Des Cowley and Clare Williamson, published by Miegunyah in 2007, to accompany the permanent exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, The mirror of the world. It is a beautiful book, full of illustrations and text describing key items in the history of the book, and is available from most book shops and in the foyer of the State Library. Members were urged to buy the book and to visit the exhibition, which was on display on one of the
upper rooms circling the dome. The other exhibition currently on show at the State Library is “Holidays”. It was also heartily recommended as it included many examples of 19th and 20th century tourist guides to Victorian resorts, as well as travel posters, and came with an extensive catalogue.
Also on sale in the foyer of the State Library is a new book, E. W. Cole: chasing the rainbow, by Lisa Lang (North Fitzroy, Vic, Arcade Publications, 2007). It is only small but is well-written and has much information not found in Cole Turnley’s book, Cole of the Book Arcade (1974).