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...

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...