Australian Rare Books - a new edition just out

Australian Rare Books - a new edition just out

Friday, Jun 16, 2023

 When Hordern House commissioned and published Jonathan Wantrup’s Australian Rare Books 1788-1900 in 1987 it was quickly and rightly recognised as the authoritative, definitive, and very readable work on collecting printed Australiana.

Over the 35 years since first publication, Wantrup has been editing and adding to that work and now, at last, our friends at Australian Book Auctions in Melbourne have published the new edition.

As the publishers note, “Offering a distinctive approach to Australian history and a unique perspective on the development of Australian society, in his eminently readable book Wantrup demonstrates a rare facility for making complicated things seem simple. This revised and enlarged second edition comprises the eight chapters of the first edition and five new chapters: a survey of beautiful Australian colourplate natural history books (two chapters); a detailed account of the French grands voyages to the south-west Pacific; books of the Australian gold rush; and, finally, an unconventional overview of the literature of colonial Australia. The work is completed by an extensive bibliographical Checklist describing over 600 books discussed in the text”.

This is a remarkable achievement, and the two weighty volumes of the new version will be indispensable companions to anyone collecting, curating, researching or otherwise using Australia’s printed heritage.


Two volumes, 255 x 180 mm, 1400 pages, 148 illustrations (43 in colour), bibliographical Checklist describing over 600 books, glossary of book collecting terms, historical price estimates, indices of persons and titles. Set in Adobe Garamond 11 / 13. Printed and bound in Australia on 100gsm Sovereign Offset and bound in dark green buckram, blocked in gilt, with colour pictorial dustjackets.

Published by Australian Book Auctions.

Price: AUD $345 (plus delivery costs)