Collectors chance to obtain rare first edition parliamentary books

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 11th November, 2014

More than 230 rare leather-bound first editions from Victorian and earlier times belonging to the Parliamentary Library of NSW are part of an online timed auction by Lawsons Auctioneers, which ends at 10am on Friday November 14.

The NSW Parliamentary Library, founded in 1840 as the Library of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, is Australia’s oldest continuously operating official research library.

In October 1840 a parliamentary committee recommended that the Library should acquire “such books of reference of established repute as may furnish Members with means of ascertaining facts and principles connected with the most ordinary subjects of legislation”.

Through purchase and donation the collection grew steadily over the next few years.

The first of its catalogues was produced in 1849 and lists a diverse collection covering history, geography, travel, exploration, world literature and studies of antiquity.

While these books are no longer essential for running a contemporary parliamentary library, they provide great insight into days past.

In the past year, the NSW Parliament has begun a project to refurbish the ageing library stack, installing more effective environmental controls and storage solutions to ensure the collection can be properly maintained for the future. Library staff have worked closely with peers and experts to closely review the collection in line with the Library Collection Management Policy – and identify titles that are no longer relevant to the operations of a modern parliament. Remaining de-selected books are now being made available to the public via this online auction.

Dating back to 1833, some of the wonderful titles include “Yachting in the Arctic seas” by James Lamont (1876); “Round the world in six months” by Lieut-Colonel S. E Bridges (1879) “The Cruise of the widgeon: 700 miles in a ten-ton Yawi” by Charles E Robinson and “A thousand miles on an elephant” in the Shan States by Holt S. Hallett (1890).

Proceeds from the sales will be used to help fund ongoing preservation and management of the Parliament’s collection of books and archives.

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