Leading Australian conservationist has rare book collection for auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 17th October, 2017

 An outstanding collection of rare and valuable books belonging to one of Australia’s leading conservationists and founder of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy Fund, the late Martin Copley (1940-2014), will be auctioned from 2pm Sunday October 22 by Mossgreen at 935 High Street, Armadale.

By buying and managing land throughout Australia, the fund has played a vital role in preserving the habitats of endangered mammal and bird species.

Born and educated in the United Kingdom, Copley pursued a successful career in banking and insurance including purchasing the Western Australian Insurance Company from his family.

The company had been one of several successful businesses set up in the early 1900s in Perth by his paternal grandfather Samuel William Copley.

Under Martin’s guidance, WAICO prospered in the UK and eventually became the successful white goods insurance company, Domestic and General, which in 1994 was floated on the UK stock exchange.

Following the sale of the insurance business, Martin turned his attention to Australia’s worsening mammal extinction crisis.

He began tackling the problem by buying a small piece of land, now known as Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Perth hills jarrah forests and from there established the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Today, the AWC owns or manages more than 3.8 million hectares across Australia, protecting 71 per cent of all terrestrial mammal species and 86 per cent of all terrestrial bird species by developing the latest science and applying it through effective land management.

Among the highlights of the collection is a series of magnificent 19th century sets by English ornithologist and bird artist John Gould (1804-1881) with hand coloured plates.

These include the eight-volume The Birds of Australia, the three-volume The Mammals of Australia, the five-volume The Birds of New Guinea and the seven-volume The Birds of Asia

Other classic works on offer feature several volumes by Charles Darwin including The Zoology of the voyage of the Beagle, 1839-43 and Matthew Flinders tome A voyage to Terra Australis, 1814, with a large atlas of charts.

Interesting is Melchisédech Thiévenot’s Relations de Divers Voyages Curieux, 1672, containing the first map of Australia.

The collection also includes Australian artist John Olsen paintings of native animals, indigenous paintings and sculptures, library furniture and decorative arts. 

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