Online Catalogues

Australia 1784-1900

This list is the result of researching material relating to Australia relatively under-represented or not held at all in Australian collections by reference to John Ferguson’s Bibliography of Australia. Ferguson's mammoth work (in the pre-computer age), took him fifty years to complete and is the the standard reference for printed matter relating to Australia published anywhere in the world between 1784 and 1900.

Literature and travel

Our December list offers a selection of literature and travel together with original works on paper. Notable inclusions are a fine set of Nonesuch Shakespeare, works by Australia's greatest classicist, Gilbert Murray, an original account of Mendaña’s voyage across the Pacific in 1567-8, an appealing set of American scenery, a watercolour of Yantai during the Taiping Rebellion and a charming 19th Century drawing of a "ladie oystering".

Natural History

This themed list spans three hundred years of natural history: from John Gerard’s handsome 17th Century English herbal; to a great feat of 20th Century publishing, Banks' Florilegium (from the original 18th Century copper-plates). In the wake of the great 18th & 19th Century voyages of exploration and scientific discovery are landmark works by the great naturalist Baron Cuvier, his rival, Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire (doing his scholarly best to explain the peculiarities of never-seen Australian fauna), works on entolomolgy by another Cuvier-contemporary, Pierre André Latreille, and by René-Primavère Lesson the surgeon-naturalist who wrote the official account of the Duperrey voyage. There are charming works for the young and works of amazing beauty.  

18th Century Voyages

From the Age of Discovery to the Enlightenment: our September list celebrates the explosion of eighteenth century voyages with many of the key figures represented. The earliest include accounts by Dampier and Torquemada (important in the literature of Pacific exploration because of Torquemada's account of Quiros's voyage of 1605); through to Anson's famous mid-century voyage into the Pacific and the great voyage accounts of Bougainville, Cook and La Pérouse. Early European descriptions of China are represented in Sir George Staunton's Embassy; descriptions seized upon by the thinkers of the Enlightenment for their revelations of distant cultures, evolved without European influence. It is sometimes easy to overlook the scale of these accounts, and to take for granted their achievement in what has been termed the "double deed that consists of sailing round the world then writing an account of it" (Mary Louise Pratt)

Papua & New Guinea

This themed list spans five centuries of material relating to Western encounters with Papua and New Guinea. From Ruscelli’s double-hemisphere world-map revised for the 1598 printing of Ptolemy’s Geographia to the fine watercolour-portrait of Koapena, the Hood River region Chief and his meeting with the Australian Squadron leader Erskine recorded in a substantial photographic album.


Whether in the highly stylized aesthetic of the Parisian art deco designer George Barbier, pioneering anthropologies in voyage accounts, in maps, portraits, games or tools for teaching the young, this month’s themed list explores costume in all its forms. Often images were so striking they re-occur in accounts decades — or centuries later. The spirit behind many of the works is very much that of the Enlightenment — a tremendous curiosity about newly discovered parts of the world and about human behaviour, particularly for ritualised behavior. The late Professor Bernard Smith noted (here specifically of the work of St-Sauveur included in this list) ‘The engravings published in Cook’s Voyages provided new visual information about many previously unknown peoples, and greatly enlarged Europe’s knowledge of the family of man… as artists copied the engravings so they altered them still further in the direction of European pre-conceptions, the anthropological and ethnographic intentions of the originals being diverted increasingly to fulfil the demands of taste and the intrinsic needs of decoration.’ (European Vision and the South Pacific, p. 113).

Imaginary Voyages

Our latest themed list spans four centuries of imaginary voyages: whimsical, pedagogical, philosophical, fantastical, satirical: all explorations of Utopia or the world as it will or ought to be. Many offer prescient insight and many are absurd or comedic. Works by Vairasse, the rare "Histoire der Sevarambes" (an imaginary voyage to western Australia), and Foigny's "Les Avantures de Jacques Sadeur dans la découverte la Terre Australe" are present, the earliest by the Dominican Tommasso Campanella prophesying (as a few in this list do) a coming Theocracy. Works by two of the great scholars of humanist thought: Thomas More's "Utopia" and Erasmus' "Praise of Folly" appear together in a very attractive French edition.

The Navy List

Our latest themed list encompasses over 200 years of seagoing: from Hoste's classic of naval strategy sumptuously bound for Christian VII of Denmark; through to works on naval architecture, the principles of rigging, nautical astronomy and the chronometer. 

New Year

Hordern House would like to welcome you to 2018 with a New Year's selection including: the romantic depiction of Alexander Hood's triumph in the face of death (illustrated above); the first American account of his  mentor James Cook's Voyage round the world; the rare English edition of Frezier'sVoyage along the coasts of Chile and Peru with a postscript by Edmund Halley; a most attractive set of Sir William Jardine's  sought-after Naturalist's Library; and Robert Thornton's exotic take on Victorian flora.