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The Art of Discovery and Exploration

Friday June 4, 2021

Art Signifikant, the art-lovers group run by our friends at Michael Reid Gallery, recently arranged for Simon Hewson to film us talking about the art of discovery and exploration . This was one of three such short films produced with the support of the City of Sydney. You can see the video here. 

They said "This film by Simon Hewson provides access to Hordern House founding Director Derek McDonnell for our Art Members program Art Signifikant...

Art Signifikant

Tuesday May 25, 2021 12:00 PM

We recently welcomed members of ART SIGNIFIKANT, a select art program curated by James Dorahy of Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney.

By candlelight, to the backdrop of subtle piano music, members viewed a treasure trove of early books, manuscripts, and paintings. The evening was accompanied by two brief talks given by Derek McDonnell and Anne McCormick. Derek spoke of the major voyages of exploration to Australia and the Pacific in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth...

Incoming

Thursday April 22, 2021

Something there is that loves a crate -- especially when it's been purpose-built to deliver a painting to us that we've been longing to see.

We get a lot of plaudits for the quality of our deliveries outgoing, so it's a pleasure when we can enjoy a particularly good one incoming.

Omai in original condition

Friday March 26, 2021

We're sometimes asked what "original condition" really looks like: it varies widely according to type time and place of publication of course, but here's a particularly striking example. Canon Guillaume Baston's rare 4-volume fantasy about the Tahitian Omai, who came back to England on Cook's second voyage, "Narrations d’Omaï, Insulaire de la Mer du Sud, Ami et Companion de Voyage du Capitaine Cook", was published in Rouen in 1790.  As issued, and before being put...

La Pérouse in the 16th

Wednesday March 24, 2021

Rue La Pérouse, in Paris’s wealthy 16th arrondissement, was so named for the explorer in 1864. At that time Parisian street signs were made from a hard Volvic lava stone, enamelled on the surface in a process developed by the Sèvres factories, only to be replaced by the familiar modern enamelled metal plates in the late 1930s. We recently discovered a pair of the original stone street sign plaques, “Rue La Pérouse” and “16me Arrt.”...

Marquesan artefacts, and the queen's tattooed hand

Wednesday March 10, 2021

Charles Noury (1809-1869), a French naval officer born in Nantes, spent a number of years on service in the Pacific where he was entranced by the Marquesas islands. Years later, in his retirement, he studied and shared his collection of Pacific and especially Marquesan artefacts, and his Album Polynésien, an extremely rare and beautiful illustrated description of these and of observations that he made there, was published in Nantes in 1861. Among the wonderful depictions...

Hands across the ocean, digitally

Thursday March 4, 2021
This year's CALIFORNIA ANTIQUARIAN BOOK FAIR marks our 33rd such California fair, but this year it has to take digital form. Every year until now we have taken a booth next door to our good friends at William Reese Company of New Haven, removing the wall between the stands and between us showing the best of America and Australia. Times change, but digitally we extend hands across the great Pacific ocean.
We can’t be there...

Catalogue in the works

Monday February 22, 2021

We do as much as we can in-house, including all our own photography for catalogues. Our warehouse premises are much more convenient for this than our old colonial bulding in Potts Point was -- that wasn't nearly as tech-friendly. Here is the western end of the long space we use where we can keep a studio setup for weeks at a time.

Hakluyt and his sources

Monday February 15, 2021

Richard Hakluyt's Principall Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation, published between 1589 and 1600, will always be the primary source for the history of early English exploration, as well as one of the gems of Elizabethan letters. We have a set of the fine 12-volume "Maclehose" edition, here.

Our London colleague and European consultant to Hordern House, Anthony Payne, is a respected authority on Hakluyt and the author of numerous studies. His latest piece of...

18th-century readership of the First Fleeter Watkin Tench

Tuesday February 9, 2021

We have an unusually interesting copy of the First Fleeter Watkin Tench’s second book, “A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, in New South Wales” 1793, from the inventory of an 18th-century book club in Stockton-on-Tees in the N.E. of England, at that time transitioning from being a small quiet market town to an industrial hub with growing engineering and shipbuilding activities. See details of this copy and of the readers noted in...

Broadsheet listing

Monday February 1, 2021

The online cultural magazine Broadsheet described us recently as "ripped from a booklover’s wildest dreams, complete with magnifying glass, Persian carpets and leather-bound chairs. It’s the ideal setting to pore over centuries-old titles". See their article and photographs here

Ashworth's Macao: the original watercolour drawing

Friday January 29, 2021

Macao street scene, 1844: the thirty-year-old architect Edward Ashworth, on his way back to England from Auckland and Sydney, was an early visitor to Macao during its first period of rapid development in the mid-1840s. His depiction of a Chinese street scene, concentrating on details of the architecture, was published in his essay 'Chinese Architecture' (1851 & 1853).  We recently rediscovered the detailed original drawing for this important image -- details here.