Literature, History, Science, Exploration, Art and Australiana

We may be a little bias, but we think the next auction is pretty good. We have more from the Ion Idriess and James Kemsley estates. There is also a good lot of military books including some scarce unit histories, impressive exploration, as well as, Australian fiction, art books, lovely prints, bookplates, and other notable works.

We have more from the Idriess Estate contains manuscripts, letters and artifacts. We have a handful of stone implements including a Phallic Stone comes with a note in the hand of Ion Idriess “Tribal Fertility Ritual” [Lot 414 and others 413 412 415]. An Unpublished South Australia & Northern Territory hand of Idriess:  “Excellent material….wild country in true pioneering days….” [Lot 513]. Drums of Mer Correspondence with Rev Macfarlane [Lot 525].

Lot 414

From the James Kemsley estate we have a collection of bromides for the Ginger Meggs comic strip that he illustrated for many years Lot 636. Collections of photographs of Norman Lindsay [Lots 350, 349, 341, 339]. A touching letter documenting Lindsay’s final moments [Lot 350].

Lot 350

We have over 20 Unit Histories and other military including:

  • Nulli Secundus. A History of the 2nnd Battalion, A.I.F. 1915-1919 [Lot 287]
  • Footsoldiers. Story of the 2/33rd Australian Infantry Battalion [Lot 536]
  • Story of the 5th Australian Division Egypt, France and Belgium [Lot 539]
  • The Purple and Gold. A History of the 30th Battalion [Lot 542]
  • The Story of the 17th Battalion A.I.F. In the Great War 1914-1918 [Lot 543]
  • Grim Glory of the 2/19 Battalion [Lot 617]
  • The History of the First Battalion A.I.F. 1914 – 1919 [Lot 544]
  • Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 by Bean [Lot 488]
Lot 544

Besides Banks’ Florilegium [Lot 100] which was in our last post. We have an archive of Edward John Eyre, Australian Explorer known for expeditions into the interior of South Australia which he is most known for by Australians [Lot 399]. We also have A Picturesque and Historic Voyage to Brazil illustrated by Jean Baptiste Debret. He sketched street scenes, local costumes and relations of the Brazilian particular interest in slavery of blacks and in the indigenous peoples in Brazil [Lot 296].

Lot 296

We have numerous associated copies and bookplates. John Ferguson photograph albums, the father of the great Australian bibliographer Sir John Ferguson [Lot 143]. Book containing the Prince Alfred Hospital bookplate and from the library of Sir Alfred Roberts [Lot 108]. Littlebury’s Herodotus 1737 Powys Bookplate Descendant and genealogist, Tim Powys-Lybbe [Lot 117]. Guther Kemsley Deix Bookplate with printing plates [Lots 333 334 336].

Some other notable works include a set of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary from 1792 [Lot 450]. Banjo Paterson’s Snowy River with two dustwrappers [Lot 568]. First Edition Sentimental Bloke by C J Dennis with Cover Design and Decorations by Hal Gye and Foreword by Henry Lawson [Lot 605].

Banks Florilegium: A significant contribution to science

Banks was appointed as scientist on the Voyage around the world with James Cook. He had a crew of eight who collected collect specimens, drawing and notes including botanical illustrator Sydney Parkinson. Banks returned from the voyage with a significant collection of specimens and illustrations of flora and fauna, with over three-thousand of them had never been seen by European eyes. (Robertson)

Parkinson created over 1300 illustrations and watercolours included copious notes to their properties and colours. He is said to be the first European artist to set foot on Australian soil

But the ship needed to dock at Batavia for repairs. When they left Batavia 84 of the crew were sick with Malaria or dysentery. 23 of crew died, including Parkinson. On Banks’s return he hired artists to complete Sydney Parkinson’s drawings and 18 engravers to create the copperplates, one of which was Frederick Polydore Nodder(fl. 1770-1800) a botanical artist and publisher. The project took 12 years (Banks Florilegium collection.)

The collection of plates was not published during Banks’ life. On his death in 1820 Banks left his specimens and plates to the British Museum. The complete full collection was produced between 1980 and 1990 by Alecto Historical Editions and the British Museum. They used a superior but laborious technique called à la poupée. In some cases, up to 17 colours were applied to the plate with a cotton ball. Each plate to one week to two months to proof. They were compared with Parkinson’s original drawings and notes. Each plate is exceptional and the bound volumes are grand.

This work represents a significant contribution to science.

The Banks Florilegium is lot 100 in our next auction 12 noon Friday 30th July 2021.


Australian Dictionary of Biography.

About the Banks’ Florilegium Copperplate Engravings. The Florilegium Gallery.

Banks’ Florilegium. Alecto Historical Editions

Banks Florilegium Collection. Museum Metadata Exchange. National Museum of Australia

Peltz, L.  Nodder, Frederick Polydore (fl. 1773–1800), botanical artist and publisher. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 11 Jul. 2021, from

Nodder, Frederick Polydore (fl. 1770-c. 1800), Biographical Notes, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. Australian National Herbarium.

Robertson, Anne. The Banks Florilegium. Treasures of the State Library of NSW. Australian Collections. 90-92pp.