The 7th Melbourne Rare Book Week (MRBW) and 46th Australian Antiquarian Book Fair, to be presented by the Australian Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB) and Rare Books Melbourne (RBM), will start Friday June 29 and run until Sunday July 8, 2018.
The advent of computers, then iPads too, meant many people have since the millennium, predicted ‘books’ people can hold in their hand to read, enjoying their tactile qualities and visual pleasure, would go out of fashion.
While I understand the argument, there are some books that have hung around for thousands of years, whose words today are not only still relevant, but also apprehend the true nature of a thing, a character or an underlying truth it’s hard to ignore.
If they hadn’t existed for as long as they have we wouldn’t have the knowledge to inform our society on just how far we have come since the days of our ancient ancestors.
There are many people including the government, who don’t trust ‘computer based’ storage systems to date, why else would we have to print off everything still and fill in real forms. As long as they continue to do this, real books will last.
The books on offer at the Melbourne Rare Book Fair by dealers all over the city, will include a wide variety of interesting topics on book-related themes. There is something to peak everyone’s interest including books printed by ‘rare presses’.
Douglas Stewart Fine Books nearby to me in Armadale, will be exhibiting with his colleagues in the Wilson Hall of the University of Melbourne on Friday July 6, Saturday July 7 and Sunday July 8 from 10am to 5pm for the Australian Antiquarian Book Fair. The type of merchandise they have on offer includes, books, manuscripts, photographs, artworks and realia
Two books in their catalogue certainly caught my eye… a stunning French Book of Hours, and of peak interest, a ‘Book of the famous Marco Polo Venetian of the wonderful things that I saw in the eastern parts: it is convenient to know in the Indies, Armenia, Arabia, Persia, and Tartary. E of the power of the great Can and other kings. With another treaty of micer Pogio Florentino and deals with the same lands and islands’.
They also advise that among many highlights are ‘a superb watercolour by Australian children’s book illustrator Ida Rentoul Outhwaite; the first book on Australia, Pelsaert’s narrative of the wreck of the Batavia (1647); an early eighteenth century Japanese world map (1708); a Macquarie era Aboriginal breastplate (1820); Norman Lindsay’s own copy of A Homage to Sappho (1928); two original watercolours by Arago made during the Freycinet expedition (1817-20); a complete set of Verve, the Parisian review of art hailed as “the most beautiful magazine in the world”; and an exceptional set of Voyage de la Perouse autour du monde (1797).’
If you are a newbie please let me advise, attending a Book Fair is fabulous fun too. You can go along and rub shoulders with committed bibliophiles, established collectors and those who have made the sale of rare and special books, their career focus.
You will find you won’t be lost for words… and that they will all be happy to share their experiences with you.
Book nuts are indeed a breed apart. Perhaps a little eccentric, but above all they are involved in a passionate pursuit that enriches life and provides fulfillment.
Books for me have certainly been integral to my life’s journey. They have shared their knowledge, their insight, their exciting stories, their passion and compassion and as well, have kept me jolly well informed of the world around me from past to the present.
The wisdom and the words, both ordinary and extraordinary, that I have gleaned from books, helped me not only in my professional life, but also most importantly in my personal life. Reading aloud is a simple but effective means of assisting the literacy, learning and listening skills of children everywhere, including my three sons.
Award winning author and literacy expert Mem Fox’s Reading Magic is a manual that seeks to have all adults everywhere understand they are all potentially viable early childhood learning agents. Mem says that if everyone caring for a child read aloud a minimum of three stories a day, we would probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation.
Reading aloud is also a joyous experience providing those involved with opportunities for communicating in a happy environment. My earliest memory is of being read aloud to by my mother when I was in hospital as a child with polio. She quite literally helped to save my life.
Reading books growing up was encouraged mightily, my father being a headmaster, and in my teenage years I spent my after-school hours in the local library. This is where I could not only find the information needed to complete my homework assignments, but also feed my personal curiosity in the history of mankind in the time left before the library closed and I had to go home.
In my adult years just one of those dealers whose door I haunted for decades while living interstate was Kay Craddock on Collins Street, Melbourne whose treasure trove is ongoing.
She has been responsible it seems in this state, for working to keep book lovers united as indeed was Anne McCormick in Sydney whose book ventures including Hordern House, always captured my interest. I understand their passions well.
Books in the first decade of this century seemed to take a nose dive, however it also seems to me that today there are just as many book lovers in the world as non-users or alternative users. The book lovers are determined they will keep the ‘real object’ going as long as they can and this desire has produced many creative results.
My copy of Giuseppe Castiglione A Jesuit Painter at the Court of the Chinese Emperors is full of the great artist’s wonderful drawings and paintings in stunning plates that are a continuing pleasure to apprehend. It took me ten years to find a copy and I have cherished it ever since.
Rare books have always held appeal and over the course of my lifetime, I have visited antique book stores both here in Australia and internationally, to add to my personal collection.
At one point, I had nearly seven thousand books, which I used as a core library for students I was teaching at the time. The main focus for the collection was the evolution of design and the decorative arts, although from time to time I did go after first edition fab fiction stories too.
These included a few children’s books as well as at a later stage, first edition James Bond books by Ian Fleming, for my eldest son.
Today I have a few rare books left, having sold the main bulk of my collection prior to moving to Melbourne.
However, what I have continue to give me pleasure and joy.
My rare edition of Peter Pan by JM Barrie, which I read aloud to my three sons when they were small takes me all the way back to my own beginning, because it was the book my mother read to me in hospital. I am sure that magical story aided my recovery.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018
June 29 – July 8, 2018-06-26
presented by Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers (ANZAAB)
Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne
Wilson Avenue, Parkville VIC 3010
Friday, July 6, 2018 • 6 pm to 9 pm
Saturday, July 7, 2018 • 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday, July 8, 2018 • 10 am to 5 pm