Our featured item is a unique and magnificent (and at 18.5 kgs remarkably substantial) specially prepared photographic album in a superb and complex binding by the Government Bindery. The album showcases the virtues of New South Wales, and was presented by George Houston Reid as Premier of New South Wales to the Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897.
Catalogues & Lists
We have now been working for a year from our new Hordern House headquarters, and with our first major printed catalogue of the year have taken a moment to reflect on our antiquarian journey begun in 1985.
Moving into this intimate warehouse space in Sydney’s Surry Hills was a bold move for our company that had for thirty-two years been run from a traditional colonial house in Victoria St., Potts Point. In so doing, we were able to introduce ways of working that better matched the vibrant, innovative changes that mark today’s fine art culture. Whilst we work with the historically important past, our move to Surry Hills encapsulates 21st-century business philosophy.
Continuing, as we do, to specialise in rare and important original materials relating to Australia and the Pacific over the period of European discovery, exploration and settlement, this catalogue embraces material from the earliest European conception of a southern land to the voyages of Cook, Flinders, La Perouse and Freycinet. Cook’s contribution is traced in a matched pair of beautiful library globes (item 7). Australia as an emerging geo-political centre is marked with the inclusion of a pair of remarkable paintings (see item 36) of Sir George Seymour and his ship Collingwood.
Read a review of our catalogue in Rare Book Monthly here
Our featured item is William Swainson’s Zoological Illustrations—a particularly attractive set of both the first and second series of this beautiful work of natural history. The importance of this work to Australian and Pacific natural history cannot be overestimated: several plates feature Australian specimens figured for the first time, while many of the illustrations are derived from the collections of important figures such as Sir Joseph Banks, Elizabeth Bligh, Allan Cunningham and John Byron.
Our featured item is a slim work of great beauty, John Richardson’s Icones Piscium: the first separately published work on Australian fishes, the plates after drawings by James Barker Emery, the first Lieutenant on the Beagle voyage during her survey of the Australian coast 1837-1841.
A very finely painted depiction of a traditional Greenlandic Inuit hunter after harp seals in his distinctive hunting kayak. The unsigned watercolour is of considerable quality and style, and depicts an Inuit pursuit with a level of detail whose accuracy modern historical sources now confirm.
Our February catalogue has been prepared for upcoming exhibitions in California.The list encompasses treasures relating to Cook's Voyages: the first American edition of Hawkesworth; the two surreptitious accounts by Marra and Magra; a highly unusual copy of Parkinson with the plates in duplicate; Webber's Views of the South Seas; and a great rarity--the French edition of Samwell's Death of Cook--no copy has appeared on the open market in 50 years. As befits a West Coast catalogue we have listed the first two works on wine & vines by James Busby in their colonial Sydney printings. The greatest voyage of the intellect: Charles Darwin's account of the voyage of the Beagle is included together with our featured item--John Hayter's striking group portrait of the three Fuegians who accompanied Darwin.
John Hayter's striking portrait of the three Yahgans ("Fuegians") who accompanied Charles Darwin on the Beagle voyage is featured above. (The full account of the Beagle voyage may also be viewed here) Darwin's experience with the Yahgans both on the voyage and in their homeland can be singled out as formative in his development of ideas for both the Origin and for The Descent of Man.
This catalogue highlights a selection of manuscript and printed rarities from the 18th & 19th Century, including Cook, Kerguelen and Dumont D'Urville through to those from the heroic age of Antarctic exploration represented by Amundsen and Mawson.
Jacques Etienne Arago (1790-1855) sailed as artist on Louis de Freycinet’s 1817 voyage around the world on the Uranie, and on his return devoted the rest of his life to writing about the voyage, and writing for the theatre. His account of the voyage here featured is very different to the huge official narrative, giving a highly readable and very personal, whimsical and humorous description of events and people. As he noted in the English version (Narrative of a Voyage, 1823) he set out to avoid the conventional forms of the voyage narrative and to ignore the ‘eternal repetition of winds, currents, longitude and lattitude’. By the time this version of his book reached the public, its remarkable author and artist had lost his sight: hence the new title used for the work of Souvenirs d’un aveugle. The lovely handcolouring in this edition means that Arago’s wonderful depictions of the Pacific are given full rein. Here they are present in the rare hand-coloured form. Seldom seen on the market, this should be ranked as one of the rarest and most prized Pacific or Australian colour-plate books.