Gloves off!

Friday March 10, 2023

We are frequently asked by collectors and clients about the use of gloves in the handling of rare books.  This recent entertaining article by Jennifer Scheussler of The New York Times is a guide to why we, for the most part, say "No"!:

[The elegantly gloved hand illustrated is from a portrait of Queen Adelaide by William Beechey]

For Rare Book Librarians, It’s Gloves Off. Seriously.

When handling rare books, experts say that bare, just-cleaned hands are...


Wednesday February 1, 2023

Described in the 1930s as “one of the three or four most remarkable books in the whole course of English literature”, perception of that status may have changed a little in the century since, but Pickwick, Dickens’ great and sympathetic classic remains a highpoint of both literature and collecting. 

Dickens’s first novel, his fame actually developed during the course of its publication. A few hundred copies were printed of the first few parts of Chapman...

California not an island, but a peninsula...

Tuesday November 29, 2022

From the fifteenth century onward Europeans were in search of alternative routes to India, and there was much speculation whether a route existed via the Arctic. This issue was of immense interest to 18th Century scholar and librarian Samuel Engel, and most of his work on geography is based on this question.  The map detail pictured is from his Mémoires et Observations Géographiques et Critiques… (1765). From the final part of Books from a Private Collection (see Website...

Captain Cook pleads for a press-ganged crewman

Thursday September 29, 2022

Detail from an extraordinary letter and most unusually in James Cook's own hand. The letter was written aboard HMS Resolution while the ship was at Deptford, taking on final stores and provisions prior to sailing on Cook’s arduous second voyage. In the letter, dated 9 March 1772 and addressed to an official of the English East India Company, Cook asks for the release of one of his men,  James Keaton, who has been press-ganged into the company’s...

Canadian Exiles: political prisoners in 1840s Sydney

Thursday September 8, 2022

Following the military defeat of the Canadian rebels in 1837, some were executed but most of the rebels were banished without trial to Australia. In all, 141 political prisoners were transported, slightly more than half to Tasmania and the remainder to New South Wales.   Their presence as convicts in the Longbottom Stockade in Concord, Sydney is recalled by the names of Exile Bay, France Bay and Canada Bay. The “Canadian exile” printings have always been keenly collected...

Christie's International Real Estate Magazine

Wednesday June 8, 2022

The importance of a place for books and collecting: “Meet the rare book and manuscript dealers who can make your collecting dreams come true”. Hordern House are delighted to be featured, along with our friend and colleague Pom Harrington on the other side of the globe, in a worldwide view -- "On the Same Page" -- an article shortly to appear in Christies International Real Estate Magazine.

Just published

Monday March 21, 2022

OUR NEW CATALOGUE has just been issued with a mix of subjects, including some fine illustrated natural history material.

Some of the catalogue items are examined in more detail on our website here. There are links to the relevant pages in the catalogue.




Tuesday February 1, 2022

The remains of Cook's Endeavour finally identified beyond doubt. 

The Australian National Maritime Museum has confirmed that the wreck in Newport Harbour, off Rhode Island, is that of Cook's ship, scuttled in the harbour as part of the American War of Independence in 1788.

See the full story here 



La Perouse & his fate: our latest catalogue

Monday November 29, 2021

Our latest catalogue covers in detail the La Pérouse expedition and its tragic fate: which would remain mysterious for forty years — the eighteenth century’s MH370.  The catalogue describes the fourth part of the collection of a long-term client and friend of Hordern House: French voyages to 1800 (with a few additions). The subject matter also includes the voyages of Bougainville and Crozet.

Cryptic voyaging?

Sunday November 14, 2021

Jacques Arago (1790-1855), eccentric but gifted explorer, and artist on the Freycinet expedition, set himself a very peculiar task. Signing himself “J.cques.r.go”) he set himself the downright weird mission of describing his trip throughout the world without using one very helpful vowel; the title of the work gave his conceit some trouble "Voyage autour du Monde sans la Lettre A.",  but for the rest of the text he is good to his word.  Thus delightful...