Hey for Lubberland

Tuesday October 13, 2020
The image used on our home page for “Voyages before 1700” is a woodcut from “An Invitation to Lubberland”, a late-17th-century ballad in the Roxburghe Collection at the British Library. Christian Algar has posted an excellent piece on it.

Lubberland is a place of dreams, where ‘streets are pavd with pudding-pies,’ and ‘hot roasted pigs’ that ‘run up and down, still crying out, Come eat me’. ‘The rivers run with claret fine, the brooks with...

"Common friends to mankind..."

Sunday October 11, 2020

Two hundred and fifty years ago Captain Cook and his crew on HMB Endeavour made their first sighting of the coast of New Zealand (6 October 1769) and first landing (Poverty Bay, two days later). Six months later they made the east coast of Australia (Point Hicks, 20 April) and shortly afterwards the first landfall on the coast (Botany Bay, 29 April 1770). Our catalogue “Common friends to mankind” sets out to mark the anniversary by...

St Winifred’s virginitie

Friday October 9, 2020

Some years ago, we sold a flyleaf that had been excised by a previous owner from a seventeenth-century book. On it, in a neat hand, appeared a charming six-line poem that we know now – thanks to digital access to first line records – to be an unpublished and otherwise unrecorded poem. So, we record it here: 

St Winifred made a vow in haste,
That she would live a virgin chaste,
That vow for ever...

Meditations on the history of the book

Wednesday May 6, 2020
'Whatever they may do, authors do not write books.  Books are not written at all.  They are manufactured by scribes and other artisans, by mechanics and other engineers, and by printing presses and other machines.'  
So observed Roger Stoddard, the eminent book historian and former curator of Rare Books at Harvard, which is the starting point for a meditation on the history of the book by our colleague Anthony Payne, Hordern House's consultant in Europe. We...

Our first book delivered by robot

Tuesday August 20, 2019

To mark the official opening of the UTS (University Technology Sydney) Library’s Reading Room, a UTS robot--part of their state-of-the-art new library retrieval system--delivered Attila Brungs (UTS Vice-Chancellor) a rare book from Hordern House, William Dampier’s A Voyage to New Holland and the first to be shelved in the new building.

Read more here

The hunt for Darwin's Beagle

Wednesday August 14, 2019


A search is under way for the ship that carried Charles Darwin to South America.

HMS Beagle is best known for her second, voyage in 1831-36, when Darwin gathered evidence that convinced him of the principle of natural selection.

The vessel carried the naturalist Charles Darwin and was sold for scrap in 1870 for £525

Marine archaeologists believe that the remains of the brig-sloop are submerged in a mudbank near Paglesham, Essex.

For more on this...

Juvenilia: a new online list

Friday August 2, 2019 - Tuesday October 12, 0202

A selection of works for children spanning three centuries, including: voyage accounts, natural history and the first childrens' book to include the kangaroo; games, puzzles and works of fiction including what is considered to be the first novel of Australia Alfred Dudley: or the Australian settlers. 

Hordern House exhibiting in Melbourne

Friday July 12, 2019

Hordern House will be exhibiting at the Melbourne Rare Book Fair 12-14th July at Wilson Hall University of Melbourne. Click the website link above to view our full catalogue. 

Two highlights to be shown include: a recently-discovered, fine pastel portrait of Sir Joseph Banks  by Amelia Susannah Petty; and a fine illuminated presentation address to HRH Prince Albert Victor, on the occasion of the young prince’s visit to the Cook memorial at Kurnell, Sydney in 1881. The...

Major works from a private Australian collection

Friday June 7, 2019

Offered from a private Australian collector is this choice catalogue which includes a beautifully-bound copy of Lycett's Views in Australia; a handsome set of Cook's three voyage accounts with uniform contemporary provenance; a fine copy of Parkinson, uncut in the original boards; and First Fleet works by Collins, Hunter and Phillip. To view this selection please click here and for a extended suite of views from Lycett please follow the link here.   

Centuries of Rare Chinese Books Now Online at the Library of Congress

Sunday June 2, 2019

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage month, the Library of Congress has digitized and made available online 1,000 Chinese rare books produced before 1796. The Chinese Rare Book Digital Collection includes the most valuable titles and editions housed in the Library’s Asian Division, some of which date as far back as the 10th century and are the only extant copies in the world.

The collection may be viewed here and to read the full article...