Acquisitions From Australia And Beyond By Hordern House
The latest acquisitions from Hordern House.
By Michael Stillman
Hordern House is a major Australian bookseller, so it is no surprise that their catalogues are filled with Australian items. If you collect Australiana, you should not miss them. However, Australia is not a limiting factor. Many of their books may have an Australian connection, but fit more closely with other collections, such as travel and voyages, or even Americana. And then, there are a few with no obvious connection to Australia beyond the fact that they were owned by an Australian. So we will take a look at their latest catalogue, "Acquisitions December 2004," but don't make any assumptions about what you will find.
Item 33 is an example of a piece of Americana with an Australian connection. It is an agricultural almanac printed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1887. Along with the usual stuff about calendars and phases of the moon, there's a story called, "A Desperate Encounter with a Kangaroo." This is not about an escapee from the Lancaster Zoo, but about a man who visits Australia's "Outback," and finds himself in a life and death struggle with a crazed marsupial. Fortunately, his canine companion saves his life, establishing why it is not kangaroos who are man's best friend. Priced at Australian $750 (US equivalent $573).
Here is another piece of Australio-Americana (that's probably not a word), George Barrington's A Voyage to New South Wales... This is the 1801 second edition of the book which was only the second work on Australia published in America when it first appeared in 1796. This is also the book through which most Americans first learned about Australia. That was unfortunate, since the book was a fraud. So was Barrington. He was a notorious pickpocket, who was transported to the penal colony in Australia for his errant ways, but managed to earn his way into the good graces of his jailers. He was freed and became a celebrity. However, none of this has to do with the fraudulent nature of this book. The fraud is that it was not even written by Barrington. It was written by someone who stole his recognizable name, figuring it would help sales. Item 4. $550 (US $420).
Here is one more piece with an Australian-American connection. It is Poems by Robert Southey by...you guessed it. Southey was an English poet, but his "Botany Bay Eclogues," contained in this book, dealt with the misery of British criminals transported to Botany Bay, Australia. Item 9 is the Boston 1799 printing of these poems, and it too is one of a very small number of Australian-related items printed in America in the 18th century. $2,800 (US $2,136).
Acquisitions From Australia And Beyond By Hordern House
A little known report from Scott's first Antarctic expedition.
One of the worst maritime disasters in Australian history occurred in August of 1859. The "Admella" was sailing from Adelaide to Melbourne when it went off course and crashed into a reef. The ship broke into pieces, leaving its passengers and crew clinging to its remains. Today, a distress call would bring quick assistance, but in those days, long before even the Titanic, there was no way to make such a call. They could see land, but the seas pushed them away. The survivors found themselves lost and alone, with little food or water, and no way to shore. Finally, after two days, two seamen were able to fight their way to land. They then embarked on a 20-mile trek to the nearest lighthouse. Since the lighthouse had no telegraph, the keeper had to ride for help. Once help was summoned, they had trouble locating the site, and when it was found, completing a rescue was extremely difficult in the high seas. It took a week before rescuers were able to pull the remaining survivors to safety, and by that time, only 24 were left, 89 having perished. Today, the Admella Dunes serve as a memorial to those who died in this disaster. Item 42, by Samuel Mossman, is a recounting of the tragedy: Narrative of Shipwreck of the "Admella"... $1,850 (US $1,413).
Item 21 is a short and obscure book for collectors of Antarctic expeditions. It is called Antarctica. Leaves from a diary kept on board an exploring vessel. The author is C. Reginald Ford, and he was a member of Robert Falcon Scott's first expedition to Antarctica on board the "Discovery." Scott did not make it to the South Pole on that expedition, but he didn't die on it either. That would be his fate ten years later on his second expedition. After finally reaching the Pole, only to find Roald Amundsen had beaten him there, Scott perished on the return trip. However, the first expedition, while falling short of the South Pole, did reach farther south than man had ever gone at that time. Ford was a young steward aboard the "Discovery," and his role is little remembered. So is his booklet, which is most notable for being a contemporary publication (circa 1905). Ford would have the good sense to become an architect, rather than returning to Antarctica, so he outlived the ill-fated Scott by 60 years, dying in 1972 at the age of 92. He is better remembered as one of New Zealand's foremost architects of the 20th century. $825 (US $630).
For those who collect the American Far West, there's William Ellis' Polynesian Researches... Ellis was a missionary who spent many years in Hawaii and Tahiti during the first third of the 19th century. He published this four-volume study after returning to England around 1830. It includes much about the natives of these Pacific islands, along with shorter sections on visits to Rio, Australia, and New Zealand. The previously mentioned poet Robert Southey described this book as one of the most interesting he ever read. Item 19. $2,400 (US $1,833).
Item 55 relates another journey, Narrative of a Journey round the World, during the Years 1841 and 1842... The author, Sir George Simpson, was a North American official of The Hudson's Bay Company. He journeyed from London to the east coast of Canada in 1841. Simpson then traveled across Canada to Vancouver, up to Alaska, back down the coast to California, and finally to Hawaii. He provides much information about the places he visited in this book. $1,450 (US $1,107).
Hordern House may be found on the web at www.hordern.com and reached by telephone at (02) 9356 4411.