Hordern House has issued a new catalogue that is lacking a title, but not much else. It is a fully illustrated, well-described collection of material that will appeal to collectors at a high level. Hordern House is located in Sydney, Australia, and most items touch on their homeland in some way. It is heavy on travels and voyages, as is generally the case with Australian material from the early 19th century or earlier. The land was still in discovery mode. Many of these travels reached other lands as well, so Pacific travels in general are well-covered here. Some went inland into the continent, but not many people were straying too far from the shore in these early days. While books are frequently found here, this catalogue also includes paintings and other artwork, manuscripts, maps, documents, and ephemeral items. We will next take a look inside at a few selections.
We begin with one of those sort of Australian items. It dates from way before the discovery of Australia as we know it today, a mere speck of the land once thought to exist down under. It refers to the "australe" or southern land. The author was Henri Lancelot-Voison de la Popeliniere, the title L'Amiral de France. Et par Occasion, de Celui des Autres Nations, tant Vieles que Nouvelles. La Popeliniere was a French historian, and this work was published in 1584. It would not be until almost two centuries later, after the second journey of English Captain James Cook, that the myth of there being a giant southern continent was finally put to rest. The theory was based primarily on there being far more known land in the northern hemisphere than the southern. It was believed there must be a balancing amount of land in the southern half, and since travelers had not spotted it in the more northern regions of the southern hemisphere, it must exist in the hemisphere's farther southern regions. La Popeliniere also believed that Magellan had seen the tip of this great land to the south when he passed through the Straits of Magellan. While other than this misunderstanding, no one had ever seen this great continent, la Popeliniere thought that France needed to quickly go and colonize it. This book, his second on the subject, is an attempt to get the French to expand its navy so it can get to work colonizing this mythical land. By this time, other European powers had already grabbed the New World, so this was France's last chance to take a large territory still unclaimed by her rivals. He imagined this land would be filled with riches and beauty, but even if not, France needed to be first to make the discovery. Item 31. Priced at AU $45,000 (Australian dollars, or approximately $30,870 in U.S. dollars).
The Beagle, a ship not a dog, participated in what, in hindsight, proved to be the most important of explorations. It was the ship's second major voyage, lasting from 1831-1836. The commander was Captain Robert FitzRoy and the mission was to survey the southern portion of South America. FitzRoy wished to have a naturalist on board and selected a young man with little experience in the field to fill this role. His name was Charles Darwin. It was the result of his observations on this trip, particularly similarities and differences between certain species based on location, that led to his discovery of the theory of evolution. No scientific discovery has ever been as important for humans' understanding of who they are than this. So, what happened to the Beagle after Darwin's voyage? The answer is the Beagle undertook one more significant voyage, this one to Australia. Here is the account of that final voyage, Discoveries in Australia... by John Lort Stokes. This voyage lasted from 1837-1843. This voyage was originally commanded by John Clements Wickham, but when Wickham took ill in 1841, command went to Stokes. Stokes was the longest serving officer on the Beagle, having served there even before its first voyage. He named several places in Australia after companions on his journeys, Port Darwin being named for Charles Darwin. The Beagle surveyed the northwest coast of Australia along with various other sections of the continent, occasionally charting rivers and inland areas as well. When Lort's mission was completed and his book published in 1846, no one yet had an inkling as to the monumentally important theory Darwin was developing, so the significance of the ship was still unknown. Item 5. AU $9,500 (US $6,520).
Edward John Eyre was an early inland explorer of Australia. He traveled from England to Australia at the age of 18 and settled into sheep raising. When he sold his sheep, he used the proceeds to fund his explorations inland, accompanied by an Aboriginal friend. It was a time when little was known of the interior and his expeditions involved great risk. All of this said, this next item pertains to Eyre, but has nothing to do with Australia. He would go on to serve as a lieutenant or acting governor in New Zealand and the West Indies, then acting Governor of Jamaica, and finally, in 1864, as Governor of Jamaica. In 1865, there was a rebellion by black Jamaicans which Eyre put down brutally. Over 400 blacks were killed, 600 flogged. George William Gordon was a mixed race businessman and legislator, and a critic of Eyre. When the rebellion began, Eyre had him arrested, and after a short dubious trial, had Gordon executed. Eyre had many supporters for his savage response, but also many critics, particularly in England. There was great controversy and Eyre was recalled to England in 1866. Several attempts were made to try him for murder, but his case never was brought to trial. Item 19 is a large broadside, actually two sheets were needed for it. It is headed Gordon and Eyre. It was created by Gordon's supporters. It quotes from a dispatch written by Eyre, "It is well known that Mr. Gordon was universally regarded as a bad man in every sense of the word. Reported to be grossly immoral and an adulterer, a liar, a swindler, dishonest, cruel, vindictive, and a hypocrite, such are the terms applied to G. W. Gordon, and I believe abundant proof might be adduced of all these traits." Gordon's supporters respond, "The undersigned having resided in the island for many years, and having had very considerable opportunities of knowing and forming an estimate of the late Mr. Gordon's character in his various relations in life, do hereby protest against the foregoing allegations as made by Mr. Eyre, and declare them to be utterly without foundation." It is signed by several missionaries and ministers, an attorney, a councilman, and others. Several years later, the British paid Eyre's legal expenses and gave him a pension as a former governor. He lived until 1901. In 1969, Gordon was officially proclaimed a Jamaican National Hero and his portrait was used on the $10 bill. AU $6,850 (US $4,701)
Are you wondering what Australian music was like before the Bee Gees? Here is an answer. Item 10 is the Australian Album, and since it was published in 1857, it is safe to say this is not a record album. It is a book produced by J.R. Clarke and Edmund Thomas. Hordern House describes it as "the first music album published in New South Wales." It contains eight musical scores and ten lithographic plates. There is an illustrated frontispiece, title page, and illustrated title page for each song. The preface describes these as all Australian songs, "an index of our education, refinement, art-feeling." Item 10. AU $6,500 (US $4,662).