The  red cabinet is now open.  At long last its contents are waiting to be taken out, read, perused and discussed. After several moves, the reflective bookseller's reddish brown cabinet stands prominently in place. Five hundred books old and rare, products of a lifetime collecting are housed inside it. Because they must now be sold, they are catalogued, described and contextualised weekly. 

TTalk for thoughtfulness. Oliver Wendell Holmes shaped his thoughts by talking.

 “ I rough out my thoughts in talk as an artist models in clay…When you work that soft material ’’ Holmes wrote “there is nothing like it for modelling.’’  Some of the shapes emerging, he suggested, could then be turned into enduring material of written words.

The Autocrat at the Breakfast Table  by Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1909. First published in 1857, this later printing has gilt ruled and decorated olive green morocco covers with gilt edged pages. Its hinging is exposed and covers a little rubbed from being carried in your reflective bookseller’s pocket. More details, enquire or buy now………… $55 

Castles in Italy.Once scenes of great historical events, surviving mediaeval strongholds have been converted in Italy to different uses. Often the heart of a township, their remarkable  history challenges the imagination of travellers.

Edmund D’Auvergne wrote what he identified as “the first book in any language that attempts to deal with castles of Italy with the single exception of the magnificent but incomplete German work of Professor Bodo Ebhardt.”

Famous Castles and Palaces of Italy by Edmund B. D’Auvergne, C1911.This copy is distinguished by its classical binding. More details enquire or buy now..............................................................................................................................................$275


Sing Sea Chanties. Captain David Bone served an apprenticeship in sails and heard the chanties sung by old time seamen. He became a lifelong student of old sailor songs. The words and airs appear in the book as they were actually sung on windjammers of those eras.  Each chanty is accompanied by a small essay descriptive of the song's history and application. The illustrative wood cuts are by Captain Bone's daughter Freda,  niece of the book's illustrator, Muirhead Bone.

Capstan Bars by David W Bone, Edinburgh, 1931.More details enquire  or buy now.................................................................................... $85

Her published novels inspired the writing of Jane Austen. Once enduring the indignity of a position in the employment  of  Queen Charlotte, Frances  Burney was an accomplished author.  A respected acquaintance of  Samuel Johnson , she was praised by   Macaulay in the January 1843 issue of the Edinburgh Review. Like James Boswell, Frances kept a journal and diary. Both give accounts of their first meeting with Johnson. "The very sight of him inspires me with delight and reverence..." wrote Frances. "I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigour of his conversation..." wrote Boswell.

The Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay Edited By Her Niece. 1854 more details enquire or buy now...........................................$700

Leicester school teacher turned explorer excluded humans from natural selection. G.T. Bettany confirmed Alfred Wallace as the co-discoverer with Mr. Darwin of “ the principal of natural selection as the main agent in the evolution of species.”“What deserves repeating and emphasising,” Bettany wrote, “is that Mr. Wallace must rank as a completely independent and original discoverer of the essential feature of the “Origin of Species”. He describes Wallace as “in divergence from Darwin on one important point : the limits of natural selection as applied to man”.  This second  edition of Wallace is the first edition of Bettany’s introduction and editing. 

A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon and Rio Negro Alfred Russel Wallace, 1889 more details enquire or buy now .......$2150                                                                

English pioneer of prison reform helped convicts bound for Australia. Elizabeth Fry's work and teaching, along with that of fellow reformer Jeremy Bentham, influenced experiments in Australian imprisonment. Her journal and correspondence demonstrate her driving force behind 19th century legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane.  They include  her work in convict ships, her active attention to the treatment of convicts in Tasmania and other parts of Australia and  the lengthy letter from  Reverend Samuel Marsden  written from Parramatta.   

Memoir of the Life of Elizabeth Fry. 1847 more details enquire or buy now ...................................................................................................     $750   

Making sense of Charles Darwin.  Professor Henry Drummond's 19th century lectures, popular at the time, were in response to Darwin's theories of evolution. They  were published in book form  as people struggled to make sense of Darwin's conclusions in relation to their religious life and beliefs.  The book's introduction is: Evolution In General, The Missing Factor in Current Theories, Why Was Evolution The Method Chosen and Evolution And Sociology. Chapters  are The Ascent Of The Body, The Scaffolding Left In The Body , The Arrest Of The Body, The Dawn Of Mind, The Evolution Of Language, The Struggle For Life, The Struggle For The Life Of Others, The Evolution Of A Mother, The Evolution Of A Father and Involution. 

The Lowell Lectures On The Ascent Of Man by Henry Drummond 1894  more details enquire or buy now  .........................$100 

How did the British Royal Navy really tap into its human potential ? The answer emerges in an informative Nicholas account of British naval administration. Copiously annotated , this handsome two volume work is augmented by its supporting records. A frontispiece of Knights of France and England under the Duke of Bourbon embarking for Africa in 1390 captures the imagination. Anticipation shines in the face of  soldiers clad in heavy armoury,  packed in tightly,  the banners of their  regions  held high.

History of the Royal Navy From the Earliest Times to the Wars of the French Revolution by Sir Nicholas Harris Nicholas,1847 more details enquire or buy now.....................................................................................................................................................................................................................$425

 "...a romance with its gastronomic bushranger, lawless lover and daring minx of a bush girl..." was how Hume Nisbet described his published romance set in Western Australia.  In the book's preface he also wrote that he tried his best to give a faithful picture of Australia " in its western portion."  Describing his faith in Australia as unshaken, the author shared Philip Mennell's belief in a golden future of Western Australia, expressed by Mennell in  "The Coming Colony" 1894.

A Bush Girl's Romance by Hume Nisbet, 1894 more details enquire or buy now...................................................................$500  

Joy and sadness.  As its sesquicentenary approached, the Sydney Morning Herald was the world’s oldest continuously owned newspaper proprietorship. In 1990 the "...chain of family continuity... finally broke apart ..." (John B. Fairfax preface to Heralds and Angels by Gavin Souter 1991).

The Fairfax newspaper's first one hundred years are brought to spacious dimensions by the author's heartfelt  historic narrative. Enjoy the coloured frontispiece portrait of John and Sarah in 1827, the clarity of their photographs much later in life and Adrian Feint's illustrations. Savour the vivid description of a pioneering family and their Australian business written by one of the founder's great grandsons. It has a gift inscription from the author's mother, Marguerite Fairfax  dated March 23rd 1954.

The Story of John Fairfax  Commemorating  the Centenary of the Fairfax Proprietary of the Sydney Morning Herald 1841 - 1941 by J.F. Fairfax, 1941 more details enquire or buy now ..................................................................................................................................................................$95

The rushed Charles Dickens first edition.Biographer Peter Ackroyd wrote that Dombey and Son  might even be called the first of Dicken’s moral novels. He cites a restless Dickens returning to London “…to be near the printer as the final pages of his novel emerged.” Evidence that our copy is from the first issue of the first edition of the complete book published in 1848 is based on the word “Delight” appearing twice at page 284 instead of “Joy”, the word “Capatin” appearing in the final line at page 324 and the omission of “if” from the ninth line on page 426.

Dealings With The Firm of Dombey and Son Wholesale Retail and for Exportation by Charles Dickens London 1848 more details enquire or buy now..................................................................................................................................................................................................$850

 Australia’s prominent early republican,John Dunmore Lang came from Scotland in 1823 to found the Presbyterian Church in Australia. Becoming a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council , he travelled between England and Australia promoting emigration. Lang advocated an independent Australian republic. The book’s frontispiece is Lang’s map of seven suggested states - “united provinces”-  of eastern Australia. The far northern part of New South Wales ( later separating to become Queensland ) is shown as three states – Flinder’s Land, Leichhardt’s Land and Cook’s Land.

Freedom and Independence For the Golden Lands of Australia by John Dunmore Lang 1852  more details enquire or buy now ....................................................................................................................................................................................$150  

 An invitation card to a very special one -off event. The  historic opening in Melbourne of  Australia's first parliament  took place at the Exhibition Building on Thursday 9th May 1901 . The lavish ceremony attended by over 12000 guests was marked, in the report of The Argus on 10 May 1901, “…by the splendor and solemn impressiveness which befitted its historic importance. By the hand of Royalty, in the presence of the greatest concourse of people that Australia has seen in one building, and with splendid pomp and ceremonial, the legislative machinery of the Commonwealth was ... set in motion.” 

Invitations to the opening ceremony were printed in black on a light green card. Each card was required to be handed in at  the Rathdown Street entrance to gain admittance . The rubbed card now offered for sale has survived the ensuing century and longer.

Invitation to the Opening Ceremony of The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 1901.   more details enquire or buy now..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................$475