Top Australia artists feature in Melbourne book auction

A book of imaginary butterflies (lot 7) by renowned Australian artist Charles Blackman (1928-2018) is a highlight of a private vendor’s fine and rare books collection which Melbourne-based antiquarian book seller Peter Arnold will auction online through from 2pm Sunday June 19 at 606 High Street, Prahran.

The sale of the collection, which took many years to assemble, will be held in four stages covering Australian art (lots 1-123), the entire P. Neville Barnett collection (lots 124-156), children’s books with artworks by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite (lots 157-179) and fine limited editions (lots 180-245).

Viewing will be at the Prahran premises from Wednesday June 15 until Saturday June 19.

Other famous Australian artists of the same era include Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) with his 14 signed and numbered etchings in poet Peter Stark’s Tomorrow’s Ghosts (London 1972) (lot 12).

Boyd and John Perceval (1923-2000) also feature in the lot 13 joint effort of Landscapes and portraits 1934-1949 (unpublished, Melbourne, Richard Griffin, 1987).

This bound document includes 39 mounted coloured reproductions of Boyd’s paintings and 99 of Perceval’s monochrome drawings. It shows two abandoned projects, with reproductions for two exhibitions at Australian Galleries in Melbourne.

Griffin’s binding handiwork features again in Peter Quartermaine’s volume by Gryphon Books 1983 (lot 110) that contains pictorial designs by Jeffrey Smart including a front cover imitating his famous Autobahn in the Black Forest painting.

Fifteen original John Brack (1920-1999) nude lithographs (lot 14) are another attraction with text by Margaret Plant and published in 1982 by Lyre Bird Press, Melbourne.

Extremely scarce, this edition was supposed to number 200 artist signed copies, but only about 50 were completed. 

Fellow artist Donald Friend’s (1915-1989) work is on show in Bumbooziana (lot 26) featuring sundry notes and papers of the Natural & Instinctive Bestiality Research Expedition.

This extravaganza, one of 10 with a sumptuous Zaehnsdorf binding from 150 numbered editions signed by the artist, sold out before publication.

Friend also appears in lot 33 Songs of the Vagabond Scholars with lyrics by anonymous wanderers who sheltered in courts and monasteries during the Black Death – an edition limited to 100 copies on handmade paper signed by the artist.

Among the fine books on offer towards the end of the auction is a facsimile of the original 12th century English manuscript The St Albans Psalter (lot 227).

For further information contact Peter Arnold +61 3 9529 2933 or visit the website

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