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.  

The little bookshops that could

Friday December 18, 2020

From the renowned Shakespeare and Co in Paris to bookshops in San Francisco, New Delhi and India, correspondents of the Financial Times in a recent article tell the stories of booksellers around the world who have defied the pandemic.  Adapting to a world in lockdown these booksellers have beaten the odds to communicate in new and creative ways, charting the rise of online events, mailings and catalogues to reach new and established booklovers and buyers.

The curé of Agana, Guam, taking his ease

Thursday December 10, 2020

Jacques Arago, artist on board Freycinet’s Uranie during the French circumnavigation of 1817-20, drew this intimate portrait of brother Ciriaco, the curé in Agana, the capital of Guam, during the visit there of the Uranie expedition between March and June 1819. He titled it  “M le curé d’Agana en petit negligé”. It’s a witty and charming portrait of a figure who likely expected to be taken more seriously: the cleric is shown in his “at...

Hirsute noblemen "Stand Fast"

Monday November 30, 2020

A striking bookplate: Alexander Grant, Scottish and English parliamentarian from his copy (signed and dated by him, 1697) of the surviving works of Dionysius Halicarnarssensis, one of the primary sources for the accounts of the foundation of Rome and the myth of Romulus and Remus. A handsome printing in in Greek and Roman types mostly in parallel of Dionysius, the Greek historian and rhetorician who moved to Rome around 30 BCE and flourished during the...

Joseph Banks and Lord Bessborough’s unusual dog

Wednesday October 28, 2020

“A favourite dog of Lord Bessborough’s, which had lived in the family for many years, was observed to have no teats, and never to have been in heat, although, to appearance, a perfectly formed bitch in all other respects: those circumstances being made known to Sir Joseph Banks, he requested, that when the animal died, it be sent to him…”. So Everard Home tells the story in his “An Account of the Dissection of an...