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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: rare books (7)

Rare Books wrap-up

Author
by Gemma
Publish date
28 July 2014
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Gemma is a librarian at Museum Victoria.

On Saturday 19 July, a panel of experts came together for an Antiques Roadshow-style event where members of the public were invited to come along and have their books, maps and prints appraised.

The experts were kept busy throughout the event. The experts were kept busy throughout the event.
Image: Gemma Steele
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This is the second year running that Melbourne Museum has run the Rare Book Discovery Day as part of Rare Book Week, and this year was bigger and better. Our panel of experts extended to include Gerry Dorset (Brighton Antique Prints and Maps), Mick Stone (Camberwell Books & Collectibles), and Michael O’Brien (Bradstreet’s Books) who were great additions to rare book sellers Stuart Kells (Books of Kells), Peter Arnold (Peter Arnold Rare Books). Museum Victoria’s paper conservator, Belinda Gourley was on hand again this year, and was kept busy providing advice on caring for books and giving recommendations for correct storage.

paper conservato giving advice on caring for a book Museum Victoria’s paper conservator, Belinda Gourley giving advice on caring for a stunningly-illustrated book of fairy tales.
Image: Gemma Steele
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Some interesting items were uncovered, including prints of the Titanic, German calendars from the 1960s, a two-volume English dictionary from the 18th century, and a collection of some very rare serials on migration to British colonies. Many of the items were of high sentimental value rather than high market value, although our highest valuation this year was nearly $5000!

One of the more unusual items on the day: a plan for the removal of the Benevolent Asylum, North Melbourne. One of the more unusual items on the day: a plan for the removal of the Benevolent Asylum, North Melbourne.
Image: Gemma Steele
Source: Museum Victoria
 

If you're a fan of rare books, maps, prints and ephemera, don't miss several items from the Museum Victoria Library’s historic rare book collection on display as part of The Art of Science. This exhibition opens at Melbourne Museum on 19 September 2014 and will run until 1 February 2015.

Taking care of your rare books

Author
by Gemma
Publish date
11 July 2014
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Gemma is a librarian at Museum Victoria.

Of course we all love books, but, if I have learned anything from compulsively reading Pride and Prejudice year on year it is this: sometimes we hurt the ones we love. So with Melbourne Rare Book Week fast approaching, whether you are a keen collector or someone who has come across a hidden gem in the garage, here are five golden rules to follow to take care of your own collection:

1. Wash your hands

When reading or flicking through your books make sure your hands are clean and dry because oils, perspiration, dirt and food residue can cause a lot of damage.

A Book Conservator at Work A conservator carefully handles a book. Preventive conservation protocols protect the lifespan of cultural objects while allowing them to be viewed safely.
Source: Creative Commons via Wikicommons.
 

2. Be gentle!

Some books will not want to lie open at 180 degrees; if the spine does not want to bend in a particular way then it is best not to force it as this can cause damage. Turn pages from the side rather than the corner and when removing books from a shelf always pull it from the sides rather than the top of the spine.

3. Light and temperature

Keep your book collection in a cool place with minimal exposure to light and away from areas with radiators or vents.

4. Storage

Store books either upright or lying flat, not leaning at an angle. Books should be supported on either side by books or book stands of similar size, and it is best not to pack the books in too tightly. Large, heavy folio-size books are best stored flat.

books on a shelf An example of bad book storage!
Image: Jon Sullivan
Source: Books on a shelf by Jon Sullivan
 

5. Dust regularly

Dust your books often as dust can quickly accumulate on books. It is very important to remember that, if the conditions are right, dust can be a food source for mould and mildew!

Another important tip would be not to attempt to carry out any books repairs yourself. While it may be tempting, you may end up damaging the book further and reducing its value. Museum Victoria’s paper conservator will be on hand to offer advice on caring for books and other printed material at our Rare Book Discovery Day on Saturday 19 July. Also on the panel of experts at this free event will be leading antiquarian book, print and map dealers who can assess and appraise your items.

Rare Book Discovery Day is part of Melbourne Rare Book Week. Check out the Rare Book Week website for more events around town.

Links

MV Blog: Rare Book Discovery Day 2013

Rare Book Discovery Day

Author
by Hayley
Publish date
23 July 2013
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On Saturday 20 July, four antiquarian booksellers and the museum's paper conservator joined forces to provide a free valuation and conservation service to the public as part of Melbourne Rare Book Week 2013. Peter Arnold (Peter Arnold Antiquarian Booksellers), Justin Healy (Grub Street Bookshop), Stuart Kells (Books of Kells) and Douglas Stewart (Douglas Stewart Fine Books) spent three hours assessing inherited or collected items for their market value. Paper Conservator Belinda Gourley spoke to visitors about appropriate storage and care of old or rare books.

It was interesting to see the variety of material that visitors brought along, which ranged from a Walter Scott novel to an early nineteenth century musical notation book.

Three women looking at a book Conservator Belinda Gourley provides some storage and care advice for a musical notation book dating from 1804.
Image: Hayley Webster
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The find of the day was a 1907 exhibition catalogue of women's work held at the Royal Exhibition Building.

Women's Work catalogue 1907 catalogue of women's work
Source: Kay Craddock
 

This was of particular interest to library staff, as our Rare Book Collection includes a range of exhibition catalogues relating to exhibitions held at the Royal Exhibition Building. We also took the chance to show off a couple of items from our own rare book collection, including the very rare A Monograph of the Psittacidae or Parrot Family of Australia, which is held by only two libraries worldwide.

Three people looking at rare book Library Manager Leonie Cash displaying Monograph of the Psittacidae or Parrot Family of Australia by Rev. J. J. Halley to booksellers Peter Arnold and Justin Healy.
Image: Hayley Webster
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The event was great fun, and it was fantastic to participate in the second Melbourne Rare Book Week. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Links:

Follow Melbourne Rare Book Week on Facebook

View digitised plates from A Monograph of the Psittacidae or Parrot Family of Australia on the Google Art Project

BHL launch

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
14 July 2011
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The Australian node of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is now live!

BHL is a project started by a consortium of American and English museums and herbaria that wanted to make historical biodiversity texts available online. These important books and journals are scanned, uploaded to the Internet Archive, and made available through the first BHL website. It's especially useful to scientists needing historical information about species, distributions and taxonomy, but it's also a fascinating site for anyone interested in natural history or rare books. Museum Victoria is managing the Australian part of the project in conjunction with the Atlas of Living Australia.

Since late last year, MV Online Developer Michael Mason has been creating a mirror site of the USA/UK original, ready to receive scans of Australian books later this year. At present, the Australian site provides everything the original site provides but with a different interface. "We started with the US model and changed the appearance and some parts of the functionality," says Michael.

Michael Mason Online developer Michael Mason.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The first difference you'll notice is the local influence; the page is adorned with beautiful illustrations of Australian wildlife by Gould and Australian books are featured. Michael has also worked with designer Simon O'Shea to overhaul the way the book viewer looks and works to make it more user-friendly.

Screenshot of BHL Biodiversity Heritage Library Australia website.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

At present, the 34,596,227 pages in the BHL-Australian node come from libraries in US institutions so there is plenty of Australian content yet to be added. First off the rank in this national project are some of the in-house journals that have already been scanned by other museums including those of the Queensland Museum and the Western Australian Museum. Museum Victoria, with new book-scanning equipment, will be leading the development of new scanning projects starting with the complete archive of Memoirs of Museum Victoria containing the first scientific descriptions of many Victorian animal species. This will be very handy for biologists worldwide who don't have ready access to hard copies of this journal. Later on, rare books from MV and the libraries of other Australian institutions will be scanned and uploaded.

The high-quality scans are not just useful, but often quite beautiful. You get the whole book – covers, library labels, marbled endpapers and marks of age – not just the text within. Michael's favourites are the 1600s books in Latin with fantastical illustrations. "You'd never get to see these in a library, they're too fragile and valuable," he says. BHL puts these wonderful books in the hands of anyone.

Links

Biodiversity Heritage Library Australia

Biodiversity Heritage Library

MV News: BHL visitors

Publishing possums

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
9 May 2011
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Nick Alexander from CSIRO Publishing visited the MV Library last week in search of gliding mammals. He’s working on the production of an upcoming book by Stephen Jackson called Gliding Mammals of the World.

The book will cover certain groups of mammals - squirrels, possums and lemurs - that have evolved traits for soaring between trees, such as extra folds of skin along the sides of their bodies. Victorian gliding mammals include Squirrel Gliders, Sugar Gliders and Yellow-bellied Gliders.

Nick Alexander Nick Alexander taking photos of natural history illustrations in the MV Library.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In Gliding Mammals of the World, 19th century artworks from our rare books will accompany an introduction to the historical context of gliding mammal studies. Some of the early European natural history illustrations are, in Nick’s words, 'rather fanciful' but the new book will be beautifully illustrated by Peter Schouten who is renowned for his accurate and naturalistic wildlife illustrations.

You can look forward to the publication of Gliding Mammals of the World later this year.

Links:

CSIRO Publishing

Stephen Jackson

Peter Schouten's site 

Artists and animals

Author
by Leonie
Publish date
20 April 2011
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This post comes from Leonie Cash, a librarian at the Museum Victoria library.

Thanks to the network of arts libraries, ARLIS, a trio of RMIT art academics visited the MV Library’s rare books collection recently to view examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century scientific illustration. Facsimiles of Albertus Seba and Maria Merian’s work were also on display.

Facsimilies Facsimiles of famous works by Albertus Seba and Maria Merian.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The three visitors are associated with RMIT’s School of Art and all are practising artists with a keen interest in natural history, particularly natural history illustration.

Artists studying rare books Greg Moncrieff, work experience student Max and Louise Weaver examine the exquisite illustrations in MV's rare books.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Greg Moncrieff was very pleased with the diversity of material available from the old books on display.

While looking at Gould’s humming birds, Louise Weaver was fascinated by the methods of layering of paint that reproduce the beautiful colours of these small birds.

Peter Ellis, Associate Professor and Studio Coordinator of Painting at RMIT, has written that the “experience of travel has had a profound impression on my work” and his visit to Museum Victoria’s rare books, though a short distance, has left him wanting to return again soon.

Rare book with fish illustration Fish illustration from 19th century America.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The MV Library is happy to host visiting scholars by appointment; please contact us via email.

Links:

X Marks the Spot exhibition, 2006

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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