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  • Armorial Book-Plates. Their Romantic Origin and Artistic Development – Signed limited edition of 300 this number 218 by the expert of all experts Neville Barnett – published in 1932

    Unusual faux snake-skin binding. Excellent condition 172 pages.

    With numerous book-plate illustrations with 17 tipped in originals from those of great fame (our favourite being that of Polar Explorer Douglas Mawson).

    Chapters on the Origins of Armory; the Age of Chivalry; the Pageant of Heraldry; the Romance of Arms; German, French and British Book-plates the latter extensive and importantly Australian and New Zealand Armorial Book-plates.

    Collectable work from the doyen of Australian Bookplates – Neville Barnett – Numbered Limited Signed edition with Mawsons bookplate.


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  • Michael Howe Bush-Ranger [early detailed account of his goings on and arrest] in – The Military Sketch-book (2 Volumes finely bound) William Maginn – First Edition 1827.

    Michael Howe Bush-Ranger [early detailed account of his goings on and arrest] in – The Military Sketch-book (2 Volumes finely bound) William Maginn – First Edition 1827.

    Fine examples of this rare 2 Volume set of reminiscences, first editions, published by Henry Colburn, London in 1827. Listed in Ferguson 1141a.

    Octavo, 347 pages and 347 pages after preliminaries in each. Bound beautifully in half calf over nicely marbled paper covered boards. Gilt lines, title, decoration and date of publication to each spine. Super copies.

    This scarce collection of “military yarns” includes an account of convict life in Van Diemen’s Land and a first hand account attributed to a “veteran of the Nore mutiny” titled “The Bush-Rangers”. Over 42 pages he recounts the attempts to and final capture of Michael Howe and a few of his bush-ranger comrades. Graphic details of a first failed attempt, a gun battle that saw some of the would be capturers worse off; and then a Hobart sighting and second attempt in curious circumstances etc before he was finally clapped in irons to receive the worst of punishments.

    It has been suggested that the Michael Howe story is based on a pamphlet by Bent … but that pamphlet is so exceedingly scarce we cannot corroborate that view.

    Irish born William Maginn (1794-1847) was a brilliant writer and journalist of the period. He knew and worked with Charles Dickens in the latter’s early days. Fought a duel against a parliamentarian who bashed the editor of a publication in which Maginn had written a damning review of the said parliamentarian’s recently published novel. Like many of his type got into debt, off to prison and died in poverty. Tough days.

    Interesting and various military goings on finishing with some classic Tasmanian history – a first edition set from 1827. Early for any Tasmanian content.



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  • Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea  Captain John Moresby – First Edition 1876

    Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea Captain John Moresby – First Edition 1876

    Title continues … and the d’Entrecasteaux Islands: A Cruise in Polynesia and Visits to the Pearl-Shell Stations in Torres Straits of H.M.S. Basilisk.

    First Edition published by Murray London 1876. Large octavo, 327 pages after preliminaries, nice original gilt decorated blue cloth covered boards. Three maps and four plates. Professionally repaired tear to large folding map.

    The historic record of John Moresby’s explorations and discoveries in New Guinea including the finding of Port Moresby (named after his Admiral father) and the magnificent harbour there.

    Also the mapping of the coastline between Heath Island and the Huon Gulf, all completed during the visit of H.M.S. Baslilsk in 1873. A safe passage was found through the Louisiade Reefs to the East of New Guinea and some 140 islands were placed on the chart as a result of his endeavours.

    New Guinea cornerstone book – Moresby First Edition


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  • Northmost Australia – Logan Jack   2 Volumes First Australian Edition – 1922

    Northmost Australia – Logan Jack 2 Volumes First Australian Edition – 1922

    … Three Centuries of Exploration, Discovery, and adventure in and around the Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. A first edition the Australian edition published by George Robertson, Melbourne in 1922. Two volumes with all 17 separate folding maps.

    Robert Logan Jack was the senior Government Geologist for Queensland for 20 years. He replaced Richard Daintree who was the first to hold that position. The best work of its type by far and with a number of unique aspects. Completed in Logan Jack’s final year as he passed away November 1921.

    Large, royal octavo, very good condition, nice clean covers, some foxing to page edges and ends as usual due to the tick spongy paper. Maps in great condition.

    Volume 1 commences with early exploration – Maghelen, Quiros and Torres and the Duyfken at Cape York followed by the Pera and Aernemdealt. Tasman arrives in 1644 and then pre-Cook the voyages of the Buijs and Rijder in 1756 with Van Asschens and Gonzal. And then we have the Endeavour and Cook’s discovery from the South and East and soon after in 1789 Bligh in the Bounty launch. Flinders with the Investigator and the after “Wreck Reef” the Cumberland and captivity. Philip Parker King in the Mermaid fills the gaps in 1819 and then in the Bathurst a year later. The wreck of the Charles Eaton in 1834. Wickham and Stokes in 1839 to the Normanton and Albert Rivers and Burketown. Blackwood and Yule and the “Fly” and their mark on the Straits.

    Then Logan Jack takes us to the interior and much on the great Leichhardt and Kennedy and that other fateful expedition. Back to the coast and Owen Stanley and the Rattlesnake. And then Burke and Wills up the centre and the searching parties … Landsbourough, Walker and McKinley. Closing with good content on the Jardine Brothers up the Cape, the special efforts of first geologist Daintree and then Captain John Moresby (jnr) into the Torres Straits.

    Whilst volume I contains hard to find narrative such as the Jardines and Daintree Volume II is a masterclass. After opening comments on Aboriginal and Polynesian labour we commence our explorations with the elusive William Hann and the Palmer River followed by Mulligan and 150 pages of Logan Jack’s own extensive explorations. Ending with explorations gems with Donald Laing, Embley, William Baird, John Dickie, William Lakeland and William Bowden.

    We have gone on a bit but fell justified in attempting to describe the effort put into this book and the scarcity of the accounts. The whole wonderfully illustrated by images of the explorers often from family sources and at the rear separate indexes by persons, localities and subjects.

    The Further North you go the better it gets in these Volumes.


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  • Atomic Energy for Military Purposes – Henry Smyth – First Edition 1945

    Atomic Energy for Military Purposes – Henry Smyth – First Edition 1945

    Full text of the Official Report … subtitled A General Account of the Scientific Research and Technical Development That Went into the Making of Atomic Bombs.

    Not everyone’s cup of tea. For scientists particularly physicists and physical chemists a startlingly frank book about the Manhattan Project and what went on about, and into the making of, the first atomic weapon.

    Published by the Princeton University Press but effectively a reproduction of the Official Report with an added Preface. Octavo, 264 pages, with photographs of the individual, facilities and the first boom. A good copy, dust jacket well chipped and repaired now protected in Brodart.

    The back history is well laid out, the fundamental science and the challenges. The simplicity of “critical mass” has always amazed Voyager. But it was the speed that CM is attained that was the key before all sorts of other leakages could take place in that extended micro-second. Typical of what can be achieved during wartime. The management (laboratory) structure … the heads of each all famous scientists. Voyager hero, British Nobel Prize Winner, James “Neutron” Chadwick spent three year there and is recognised here as making a fundamental contribution.

    Oppenheimer is the first name that comes to most. His organisational ability could not be questioned. The speed at which the first device was manufactured after the science was decided upon is nothing more than remarkable. On the night of the first test they were delayed by a significant lightening storm … Oppenheimer went out into the darkness and at the first sight of stars declared the experiment on …

    The First Atomic Bomb – the whole official story – like it or not … it makes interesting scientific and historical reading.



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  • Australian Born Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry – [Sir] John Warcup Cornforth – Signed manuscript letter

    Australian Born Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry – [Sir] John Warcup Cornforth – Signed manuscript letter

    A very special letter (dated 1980) not only because of its truly distinguished author but here we have real content. Letters by Nobel Prize winners are not terribly rare but so often are perfunctory, relating to meetings, events or simply lunch. Here we have real, in depth, chemistry. The receiver, Dr Buckel, a distinguished scientist in his own right, may have been rather embarrassed on receipt. Cornforth believes that Buckel had tackled his work from completely the wrong route … indeed Cornforth is puzzled and goes on to set out in great detail his preferred option(s). In our view the content reveals the manner in which Cornforth visualises the solution to the problem from first principles then more complex mechanisms and solutions and alternative options as his thinking develops. The fact of his genius is plain in the writing. We love it.

    The only Australian to date to have won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

    Dear Dr Buckel

    Thank you for your letter of 7 October. I was interested by your account of the work with glutaconate, but rather puzzled that you did not try the degradation to malate in the way you say I suggested. I have forgotten the details of our conversation during your very welcome visit, but certainly I would expect direct oxidation of glutaconate to malate by permanganate to be most unfavourable. This is because in glutaconate one has the combination of a double bond deactivated by conjunction with a carboxyl and a strongly activated methylene group. In these circumstances one would expect permanganate to attack the methylene group to a considerable and perhaps predominant extent, before the double bond was attacked. This is why it would be preferable to use a specific agent first to hydroxylate the double bond. Indeed, it should be possible to proceed in high yield to malic acid by making use of the fact that one of the hydroxyl groups will form a lactone. Thus: … chemical formulae.

    He goes on …

    The opening of the lactone ring is generally faster than the hydrolysis of an ester group (especially a benzoate) so that if you put the acetyl or benzoyl-lactone in hot water and neutralized the acidity as it appeared you should be able to get a clean ring-opening without other chemical changes. I really think you should try this – it seems so much simpler than the routes you have explored.

    I will ask at Sittingbourne if they have any chiral acetate left – I brought none of it here. It will be ten years old now and will have lost nearly half its original radioactivity but a specimen tested for chirality about five years ago seemed not to have been racemized by radiolysis or by preservation in the form of aqueous potassium acetate. However, I wonder if this is the best way to make chiral 4-substituted glutamates and I wonder if you could do this from chirally tritiated malate using R-citrate synthetase and malate dehydrogenase, following this by treatment of the citrate with aconitase, isocitrate dehydrogenase etc. This should give you a totally chiral product whereas by starting from acetate you are at the mercy of isotope effects.

    Cornforth goes on to offer his help in finding candidates for research, a task he may achieve on Thursday at The Royal Society where he is attending a discussion on glycolytic enzymes. There it is again proof The Royal Society …is the best Club in the World!

    Sydney born Cornforth was totally deaf by the age of twenty but already recognised as and exceptional academic. He went to England, Oxford, along with a similarly gifted chemist Rita Harradence, who he later married. His relationship with Rita started over a broken Claisen flask .. Cornforth was a expert glassblower … something that was essential in the aspiring chemist in the 1930’s. Interestingly, there was no place in Australia where one could do a decent PhD in chemistry at that time. Naturally at Oxford Cornforth was in his element. He went on to be the first to synthesise cholesterol and had a hand in stabilising penicillin building on the work of fellow Australian Howard Florey. Cornforth was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1975 and coincidental with being made “Australian of the Year”. Cornforth also won the Davy Medal, Copley Medal, was Knighted and made Fellow of the Royal Society

    Scientific gold – Manuscript letter with considerable scientific content by Australian Nobel Prize winner John Warcup Cornforth


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