Rare books, maps and manuscripts up for auction

Antiquarian bookseller Peter Arnold is holding one of his infrequent auctions of rare books, maps, prints and manuscripts from 6.30pm Monday and Tuesday at Ormond Hall Moubray Street, Prahran.

Among the historical items will be John Cotton’s Letters from Australia Felix – an important album of letters, watercolours, and sketches from his six years (1843-49) in the Port Phillip District.

Cotton was a cultured Englishman, naturalist and talented artist who at 31 migrated to the Port Phillip District with his wife and nine children.

In 1843, he took possession of Doogallook Station on the Goulburn River and within three years claimed to control 60 square miles (300 square kilometres) of country and 10,000 sheep.

John Cotton wrote most of the letters (including drawings) in the collection to his eldest brother William in Devon, providing a valuable insight into colonial life in Victoria before the gold rushes.

Before his departure from England, he had published The resident song birds of Great Britain, 1835 and now turned his attention to the local bird life.

In 1848, Cotton’s list of Victorian birds was published in The Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science and, by the time of his premature death the following year, he had ready for publication an illustrated work on the subject (not published until 1977).

Other highlights include Matthew Flinders Voyage to Terra Australis, Pelsaert’s Ongeluckige Voyage 1649, and several outstanding maps.

These include Robert Sayer’s two-sheet New chart of the eastern coast of New Holland from South Cape to Cape York – the first to be published after British settlement – and Abraham Ortelius’s 1589 example of the first map devoted to the Pacific.

Viewing from 11am Saturday until Tuesday. Contact 9525 1534.


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