December 12th 2020 Sale

Important Australian firsts, the Idriess Estate & other intriguing items

For the December 12th auction we have diverse selection of material from some impressive Australian collectors. We have two remarkable firsts: the first children’s book published in Australia and the first book written by an Australian Aboriginal author, as well as many signed and associated books, hand written letters, land grants and illustrations. 

The first children’s book published in Australia is A Mother’s Offering to her Children by a Lady (1841). Marcie Muir has attributed authorship to Charlotte Barton (1797-1867), described by the Australian Dictionary of Biography as a governess, feminist and author.  Barton published A Mother’s Offering to Her Children in 1841 to raise money and for a legal battle to keep her children. This title is very scarce. We know of only three copies sold in the last 30 years.  

David Unaipon

The first book written by an Australian Aboriginal author is Myths and Legends of the Australian Aboriginals. It was recently revealed from the early manuscripts that Ramsay Smith, the sattributed author of this book and a respected anthropologist, stole the material for this book from David Unaipon (1872-1976), a South Australian Aboriginal man of the Ngarrindjeri people, making this one of the first books to be written by an Australian Aboriginal author. This copy is signed by David Unaipon. Unaipon was the son of a preacher, an Indigenous culture recorder, inventor, poet and is now on the Australian $50 note.  

Ion Idriess

Ion Llewellyn Idriess (1889-1979) is one of (?) [or delete ‘s’ in authors] Australia’s most read and collected authors. He grew up in Broken Hill, later served in the 5th Australian Light horse in WWI, and travelled extensively around Australia, including remote Indigenous areas. He drew from these experiences and wrote some truly enthralling articles and books. 

For the Idriess collector we have some truly mouth-watering items. Several letters including correspondence with the US publisher concerning Horrie the Wog Dog (that little war hero!); a letter from Angus and Robertson’s managing director, Walter Cousins; and a letter author and bushman Bill Harney(1895-1962). There is also an original pencil drawn map in Idriess’s  hand that may have been used to plan his novel Wild White Man of Badu. Scarce items included the prospectus for the National Edition of his books, and a collection of stories from the Australian World Service Syndicate declaring Idriess as “Australia’s Most Popular Writer.” From his personal library there are books with his notes and some inscribed to Idriess from authors such as EV Timms, Frank Clune, and Eris O’Brien.  

We will also be selling good Australian histories from the estate of Robert Ian Jack (1935–2019), a passionate historian who was, amongst many other accolades, the longest serving president of the Australian Historical Society, a member of the NSW Heritage Council, president of the Hawkesbury Historical society, president for the Blue Mountains Association of Cultural Heritage, a and Associate Professor at the University of Sydney.  

One of many cool ephemeral items on Australian history.