State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 59 Autumn 1997


Sources for the History of the Book located in the State Library of Victoria

Research work for the History of the Book in Australia Project began in 1994. The first year was dedicated to compiling a bibliography of secondary sources that included monographs, journal articles and some newspaper reports (although these were not actively sought), of research done in the various relevant branches. The main subject headings for this bibliography included Authorship, Book Arts, Bookselling, Libraries, Printing, Publishing, Newspapers, Book Promotion, Reading, Legal Aspects, and Books for Children. It now stands at approximately 5000 entries.
The aim for the subsequent research, that is still ongoing, is to establish those involved in these trades during any period in primary sources and references that are not easily found. A name file has been created for these that shows Name/Company Name, Area of Business, Location, and Sources Mentioned. This database now stands at approximately 3000 entries and acts as an index to many of the journal articles and citations in the journals listed here.
For both these projects, much of the work has been carried out using the numerous and varied monographs, journals, and indexes held in the State Library of Victoria, which hopefully places me in a position where I am able to advertise some resources that may not be widely known. I must express an indebtedness to both the staff at the State Library for their assistance and knowledge as well as to Thomas Darragh, whose work in identifying lithographers and engravers has called attention to many of the 19th-century journals listed here that heretofore were little known to historians of the book.


The library holds in its main collection and rare books section a large number of books as well as a few special collections that are of interest to historians of the book. Examples of collections acquired that are outside the ordinary and dispersed throughout the library are those of Russel Chirnside, J. P. Fawkner, Sir Redmond Barry, J. K. Moir, and the Sticht collection, acquired in the 1920s, of rare typographical fragments and some individual books. In addition to works relating to studies of the history of the book, company histories and the like, the library has Australian type specimen books for S. Cooke and Co., the Age and Leader, Leader Publishing Co., Stuart Taylor Pty Ltd, Griffin Press, Brown, Prior, Anderson, F. T. Wimble's assortment of V. and J. Figgins type, and Angus and Robertson. Here also should be mentioned works held in the bibliographical pamphlet series that include those by B. N. Fryer, Henry Lewis Bullen and John Gartner. There are a number of printing manuals, the highlight being a copy of Moxon's Mechanick exercises (1677–83), which is extremely rare. Also a wide range of bibliographical tools, including catalogues of great collections and some hard-to-find 19th-century journals like the Library chronicle. Lastly, some annual reports such as those of Collie (Australia) and the National Book Council relating to the history of the book have been collected by the library.


Journal titles fall into two categories: scholarly and trade. There are a good number of scholarly journals in Australia that are produced by the numerous scholarly and private organisations concerned with all aspects of book, literary, and historical studies. Australian titles include: Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand bulletin, Australian book collector, Biblionews and Australian notes and queries, Jurgen Wegner's Brandywine,

Book circular of George Robertson and Company, March 1890. (La Trobe Rare Books LT 018·4 R54).

Meanjin, Southerly, Australian library journal, Labour history
(mainly for the printing historian, James Hagen's editorialship), Journal of the Australian Printing Historical Society, Australian academic and research libraries, etc.
Trade journals were produced in all periods and disciplines mainly for the purpose of informing those involved in the respective trade of any newsworthy items. The benefit of these comes in articles written on specific aspects of the trade and one is able to trace trends over periods of time if one is lucky enough to be consulting a journal that had an especially long run. John Arnold for example was able to establish the trade practices of circulating libraries in Melbourne in the mid-20th century and trace their development over a number of decades through the use, primarily, of Dan Thorpe's trade journal for booksellers and stationers named Ideas.1 This journal began in the 1920s and runs through a series of title changes to today as the Australian bookseller and publisher.
The printing trade is well represented by trade journals back into the 1890s. First there was the Australian printer, then Cowans: for the printing trade and finally the Australasian printer, which still runs today. These carried historical and technical articles, advertisements, profiles, obituaries, and news items concerning the printing trade. Cowans also carried a list of companies that had recently installed linotypes and intertypes as they were suppliers for Australia. Smaller runs are the Australian lithographer, Australian printing world, Australian small offset inplant printer, Graphic arts and Graphix. All of them are represented in the library's collection except the Australian printer which only ran for a few months anyway and the Colonial printers art journal. Two very important printing journals are the Australasian typographical circular and the Australasian typographical journal. These are roughly indexed in the in-house indexes discussed later, the Circular is available in Rare Books and the Journal has been reproduced on microfiche. These were the organs of the Melbourne Typographical Association and were produced in order to keep their members informed on industrial issues of the time. For the researcher they provide information on labour issues, strikes, obituaries, and contain summaries of the trade in Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Sandhurst (Bendigo). Additionally they carry advertisements for suppliers. More recent journals of printing trade societies are Patefa news and Patefa printing industry quarterly.
Trade journals for other facets of the book trade are Australasian journalist, Newspaper news, Australasian book news and library journal, Australian author, the Australian science fiction writers' news, the Newsagent and bookseller (superseding Ancol and Quana), Australian book review, Australasian small press review, Broadside (of the Australian Society of Authors), Chips-APM Maryvale, APM news: the official journal of Australian Paper Mills Ltd, All about books, Weekly book newsletter, Library record of Australia, Ink: the magazine for printers and publishers, Pacific printer and publisher, and Newsletter (of the Australian Independent Publishers Association). Some of these journals were published by an individual business that can give an insight into that company's practices. Examples of these held in the State Library are Selclarion (Seligson and Clare Australia, Printers' suppliers), Walch's literary intelligencer and general advertiser, Petherick & Co's monthly catalogue, S. Mullen's Monthly circular of literature and George Robertson's Monthly book circular. Unfortunately, the holdings for this are rather limited.
Journals produced by groups and guilds that have proved useful are Twelve point, PICA (Printing Industry Craftsmen of Australia), Inklings (Victorian Printing Historical Society), Morocco bound: quarterly journal of
the guild of craft bookbinders
and the Newsletter of the Victorian Bookbinders' Guild.
Financial journals that do not directly relate to studies of the book but nonetheless have proven useful are the Australasian insurance and banking record (1870-), Coombs and Co's trade circular, and A. L. Henrique's Insolvency circular. Thomas Darragh adds to this list the Australasian building companies and mortgage companies gazette and the Australian financial gazette although I have not found these of much use except for the advertisements.2 The Australasian insurance and banking record was produced for insurance company personnel but contains a list of fires each month for all capitals in Australia and New Zealand. Those relating to relevant studies number just over 500 from 1877–1901. From this, if one finds a company they are interested in, a date of the fire, proprietor, amount of insurance, estimated loss and a few remarks can be established, e.g. a paper mill in Fyenford, Victoria had a fire on 11 January, 1884. It was insured with Victoria for £1000 and the Commercial Union of London for £1000 and suffered an estimated loss of £3000.3 This information may prove more useful if used as an index to newspaper reports of those fires. Coombs and Co's trade circular that has twice-yearly indexes from 1890–1925 lists financial information such as partnerships, bills of sale, and insolvencies.
Overseas journals are less well represented. The Inland printer, an American printing journal, has gaps in its run. The English Printers register, and the British and colonial printer and stationer unfortunately were never collected. This presents problems to the serious historian located in Victoria. Just as some of the Australian journals have references to New Zealand firms, so too some of the journals from New Zealand can present useful information to Australian studies such as the Colonial printers register, Typo: a monthly journal and literary review, and the New Zealand press news, Typo being the only one held by the State Library of Victoria.


Statistics provided in numerous journals can give an overall picture of the trade if analysed appropriately, as long as one is wary of the pitfalls of statistics, especially taken from a secondary source. First and foremost are those presented in government publications. The series of Parliamentary papers carries a number of reports that present facts and statistics that should prove fairly reliable. Just one example of the many useful reports is presented in Victoria: Parliamentary debates (Hansard) Session 1954: Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly No.3 Saturday 24 April 1954 p. 150ff. when the distribution of obscene literature by Gordon and Gotch (Australasia) was discussed. The problem with the papers is that access to them is hindered by the indexes. For example an important Victorian Parliamentary Report involving the Ballarat times in 1860–1861 is indexed as “Mrs Seekamp”.4 They are more accessible when a newspaper report calls attention to them and then they can be looked up directly by date or when a book is published separately, for example the report discussing book tariffs called Books are different.
For Victoria two journals combine to present a number of useful statistics to our discipline. These are the Journal of commerce and the Weekly bill of entry. Both, at various times, presented import and export statistics that are more detailed than those provided in the yearbooks. These gave total amounts and also broke the figures down into amount imported/exported by individual company, a weekly or monthly total for the item in question, and where the goods had originated from, e.g. three packages worth £300 were imported by R. Mackay from the U.K in October 1860.5 Depending on the period in question, it is possible to trace import/export figures for books, printing materials, paper, and machinery in total or for an individual. A sample of these figures for 1860, 1865,
1870, and 1875 were used to establish book imports and exports for Victoria for the HOBA project. These proved valuable as they provide documentary proof of Robertson's domination over the trade in all periods covered as well as giving names and amounts of those importing books that include some that one would not have assumed to be carrying out this business, for instance the Oriental Bank which makes one wonder if bound stationery was not also documented here.


The in-house indexes to the La Trobe collection can be very useful for identifying a company, individual or organisation, but they are a rather serendipitous exercise. These are the Biography Index, Local History Index, Australian Subject Index, Shipping Index, Illustrations Index and Periodicals Index. These contain citations compiled by library staff from newspapers, illustrated newspapers, book chapters, trade journals and pictures (some newspaper clippings located in the Bibliography File, Historical Press Clippings File, Business History File, and Biography File). As one would expect, these contain only a few citations for figures and companies for those involved in the Australian booktrade. For instance the illustrations index has only a scatter of useful entries but those illustrations presented might prove hard to find otherwise. Here one can find, among others, citations for illustrations for George Robertson's Elizabeth Street premises in 1867, Turner and Henderson's Hunter Street building in 1876, Fawkner's first press room that appeared in the Australasian sketcher in 1887, a photo of the frontage of Periodicals Publishing Co. in 1900, and the Register, observer and evening journal's installation of a new printing press in 1837.
The Victorian pioneers index was compiled to provide easier access to the listings contained in the Births, Deaths and Marriages registers for Victoria. There is one for Tasmania also and one for New South Wales called the New South Wales pioneers index.
The Old Australiana Catalogue is a card catalogue of old books, journals and journal articles in the library's pamphlet series. It calls attention to some difficult-to-find works e.g. Bookseller and stationer issued by the Booksellers' and Stationers' Association of Victoria, vol.1 no.1 1892 [Melbourne] (Literary Pamphlet Series v.3); F. Matthias and J. Gartner Historical events in the graphic arts (Bibliographic Pamphlet v.243) 1935; and E. Edgerton Competition: [in the printing trade] its uses and abuses, 1895.
The indexes to the Victorian Government gazette (1843–) list names, acts, companies, insolvents, partnerships (NB — one must know the company name as the index does not show the occupation of the company), patents, trademarks, legal notices, and library grants.
Other indexes held by the library are relatively small and subject specific. There is a listing in Rare Books of Insolvencies for 1840–1876 in Victoria in three volumes (Victorian insolvent list from 1842 to the end of June 1862, and public assignments from 1854 to the end of June 1862; Victorian insolvent list comprising insolvencies and assignments from 30th June 1862, to 31st December, 1866; and Victorian insolvent list from 1867 to 1873). These are soon to be released on microfiche by the State Library of Victoria. They give the name of the insolvent, occupation, guarantors, and amounts involved. From these approximately 200 relate to the book trade. They can be easily browsed and give an indication of not only the insolvent's financial position but also the people connected with the insolvent. For example, the Melbourne stationers, Pittman and Cox, claimed as insolvents on 7 August, 1856 with £811 liabilities and £1150 assets and paid no dividend with Laing as the assignee.6 George Robertson and William Detmold frequently appear not as insolvents but as guarantors or assignees. The insolvents records
themselves are held in the Public Record Office (PRO) and carry useful information by itemising the debts of the insolvent. These can include employees of the person's company and business debts that the person had dealings with. Further, if solicitors records can be found in other archives (I have viewed them at the University of Melbourne Business Archive with little success), these will provide further details as a copy of these documents was lodged with the solicitor. Dates beyond these indexes are to be found in Coombs and Co's trade circular and at the Public Record Office, which possess a further four indexes as well as the documents themselves.
The HOBA bibliography of secondary sources is to be lodged in Rare Books and to be made accessible for those interested in these studies of the book in Australia. It was compiled in 1994/95 through a grant from the Monash Research Fund. It contains approximately 5000 entries and, while this requires more editing to bring it up to a presentable form, it should prove useful.


Manuscripts are perhaps the most valuable resource held in the library as they allow for in-depth original research on a given subject or topic. There are items relating to most aspects of the history of the book; booksellers, printers, publishers, authors, libraries, etc. in documents such as business records, correspondence, transcripts, and realia. In this report I am only able to give an indication of what is actually held and perhaps list some of the highlights. A helpful resource for access to this is the index for items relating, even remotely, to the history of the book compiled by Jan Shoemaker and Lois Hoffmann under the guidance of Wallace Kirsop. This is especially useful for the authors' papers. Unfortunately this index was not fully completed, but it provides much better access to the collection than the library's card catalogue's, at times, much abbreviated entries.
The library holds records and papers for a number of relevant organisations. These are: The Australian Literature Society, Australian Poetry Lovers Society, Australian Booksellers Association, Australian Library Association, Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand, Bread and Cheese Club, Book Collectors' Society of Australia (Victoria), Book Fair Council of Literary and Cultural Societies, Book Censorship Abolition League, Children's Book Council of Australia, Fellowship of Australian Writers, Friends of the State Library of Victoria, Henry Lawson Memorial and Literary Society, International P.E.N. Australia — Sydney, Library Association of Australia, Library Association of Victoria, Library Week Committee Records, Melbourne Lyceum Club, Melbourne Newsboys Club Foundation, Printing and Kindred Industries Union, Riverglen Book Club, and the Women Bookbinders' Union.
Business records that are specifically related to work on the history of the book are few, which is a situation we must lament. The Australian Manuscripts Collection is lucky enough to possess a few of these, but they have been under-utilised until recently. Most disciplines are represented to some extent, but with the exception of mechanics' institutes, the records relate mostly to the 20th century.


The F. W. Niven business records range from 1892–1977. This was a printing and lithographic business that originated in Ballarat and moved to Melbourne in the 1890s and was renowned for lithographic printing, at one time reaching a staff of 70 people. Having this company's ledgers, wage books, stock book, account books and petty cash ledger will make it possible to reconstruct much of this company's business practices. Unfortunately most of this material relates to the Melbourne operation and so belongs to the 20th century when it was reducing its business activity.
The Troedel and Cooper Pty Ltd business records are a collection of wage and salary books, ledgers, stock reports, company assets and apprenticeship indentures for the period 1897–1970.
The papers of John Lang Currie, who was a shareholder in Sands and McDougall, has some of the letters sent out to shareholders (1898–1903).
Other printers records held are the Albert Charles Miles papers, Swords Brothers, the Walker Press and the Charlwood family history. Also held are a scatter of sample books that show examples of work produced by the Webb Printing Company, Walter E. Whitehead, and E. Whitehead and Co.


The Robertson and Mullens Ltd papers (1921–1960) contain speeches, press cuttings, reports on E. W. Cole and Lothian Publishing Co. and copies of George Robertson letters to Sir Henry Parkes.
The papers of the Lothian Publishing Co. which comprise some 60 boxes, are an invaluable resource for publishing history in the first half of this century.
The Albert Henry Spencer papers (of The Hill of Content bookshop and publishers), contain catalogues, business records and correspondence from 1909 to 1970.
There is the correspondence of E. W. Cole with W. W. Upton on the proposed publication of his book “Reminiscences of an Old Bushman”.
Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd, Melbourne Branch, records include manuscripts, blocks, plates, galley proofs, page proofs and items through various stages of printing (1903–1962). Also contained here are some bookbinding quotes from James Burn and Co. Ltd and correspondence on their publication of the Atlas of Victoria.


Many authors' papers have been acquired by the library over the years. These can be very useful as they may contain correspondence with their publishers and literary agents, transcripts of their works, and proof sheets in various states of editing. Authors represented include: William Joseph Carroll, Marjorie Clark, Francis Patrick Clune, Edward Dyson, Marcus Clarke, Frank Dalby Davison, Emily Hope, Rex Ingamells, Victor Kennedy, Alan Durward Mickle, Stephen Murray-Smith, John Shaw Nielson, Nettie Palmer, Marie Pitt, Hal Porter, Katherine Susannah Prichard, Geoffrey Rawson, Charles Edward Sayers, Percy R. Stephensen, Patricia Ethel Stonehouse, Glen Tomasetti, Henry Giles Turner, and Arthur E. Woodley.
A special mention should be made of the Ward, Lock and Co. correspondence (1939–1954) with the author Mary Grant Bruce that details some of the arrangements for royalties and sales.


Foremost here are the Edward Lyon papers. These are a bookseller's family and business correspondence that cover the period from the 1870s to 1950s. The business ran from 1890 to 1955. His bookselling business in Fitzroy operated not only for the local residents but as a book supplier throughout Victoria. Contained here are the letters from bookbuyers asking for certain titles and subjects that they are unable to find elsewhere. It should be possible to recreate the specialist readers' needs at least of some Victorians from these.
The E. W. Cole collection (1879–1886) is a set of personal letters to his wife Eliza, while also containing a copy of his 1862 diary.
The business records (1928–1975) of Harry A. Evans and Son, booksellers, Melbourne, include cash books, a ledger and a journal. Of special interest are the cash books that contain daily entries.
Records for J. J. Guillaume, bookseller, Melbourne, mostly concern his account with the Melbourne Public Library (1854–1858)
and contain bills of lading, invoices and accounts for books sold to the library.
Bernard Quaritch's papers (1887–1896) show an English bookseller's accounts relating to sales of books in the colony by Gemmell, Tuckett and Co.
Kenneth Frederick Hince, the antiquarian bookseller, deposited correspondence, book lists and some personal papers (1958–1986).
The collection of correspondence (1889–1909) of William Thomas Pyke, who was the manager of Cole's Book Arcade, also includes literary manuscripts submitted to Cole's for consideration.
Also held are papers (c. 1920–1957) of John Patrick Quaine, a Melbourne bookseller with an interest in crime fiction.


Relevant collections here are the J. P. Fawkner papers (1828–1869), which have their own card index, the Syme family papers, and the James Balfour papers, who was a businessman and one time proprietor of the Daily telegraph, Melbourne. The latter has papers that mention printing, publishing and bookselling.
Business records that should prove valuable are the Birchip advertiser's journal of advertising charges and job printing done (1912–1925) and the South Bourke and Mornington journal's invoices and business correspondence (1879–1903).
The papers of several journalists contain manuscripts of articles and books as well as correspondence that allow us to look into the lives of the lifeblood of the newspaper's production. Included here are G. H. Wright (1890–1930), Bertie Stuart Baxter Cook (1886–), Edward A. Doyle (1892–), Herbert Stanley Michael (1899–1985) (Bendigo), and Kenneth Davidson Gott (1923–1990).
The personal papers of Spencer Brodney (alias Leon Brodzky, editor) contain references to his involvement with the Lone hand. These include letters with the authors Louis Esson, Hugh McKay, Vance and Nettie Palmer and Albert Dorrington that discuss the difference between the pay in England and Australia for articles, the cost of books, and printing and publishing during WWII amongst other things.
Also some of the Niel Black collection includes business correspondence with James Harrison of the Geelong advertiser in 1851, George Robertson in 1866, and Sands and McDougall in 1870 and 1875.


Located in the Burns and Wiltshire, News-agents, Avoca, business records (1910–1918) are a ledger and pass book that allow a glimpse into the workings of an early 20th-century newsagency. Newsagents records are rare to my knowledge.


The most important documents held on libraries are the records of several mechanics institutes that date back well into the 19th century. These are the Kyneton Mechanics' Institute minute books 1873–1967 and receipt book 1962–1967, the Lismore Mechanics' Institute and Free Library records 1888–1967, Port Fairy Mechanics' Institute 1864–1985, Prahran Mechanics' Institute 1861–1965, Rosedale Mechanics' Institute 1863–1967, Smythesdale Mechanics' Institute 1866–1886, and Williamstown Mechanics' Institute 1859–1961.
In addition, there are two collections relating to public libraries. The Public Library of Victoria records (those that were not moved to the PRO) that include the very important accession registers and the grant to Sir W. F. Stawell, Knt., Sir J. F. Palmer, Knt., Redmond Barry, H. C. E. Childers and D. C. McArthur for a public library in Melbourne 17 Feb. 1858, an Enquiry book 1946–1949, and a loans book from the lending library 1930–1938. Here also is the Ballarat Public Library letter-book that dates from 1890 to 1908.
Papers relating to library surveys are the Carnegie Corporation of New York papers concerning the survey of Australian libraries done
in 1934 for the Munn/Pitt report and the papers relating to the Board of Inquiry into Library Services in Victoria 1963–1965 that are contained in the Sir (William) John Jungwirth papers.
Private libraries are represented by the Royal Society of Victoria's documents relating to that organisation's Library (1931–1939) and the Melbourne Lyceum Club papers that include one piece of correspondence from the bookseller Margareta Webber.
Lastly I should mention the CAVAL (library sharing scheme in Victoria) records that range from 1978–1985.


Here are contained the papers of Edith A. Dew, bookbinder in Melbourne (1931–1983) and L. H. Moon and Son, bookbinders, business records (1951–1983).
In addition to the categories above, some useful collections are the copies of Baron Ferdinand J. H. von Mueller's inward correspondence which includes letters regarding the publication of his Flora Australiensis and the Moir, Thompson and Roberts collections.
The J. K. Moir collection consists of correspondence with authors and collectors in Australia including John Gartner and J. T. Kirtley. Moir was a great collector interested in private presses. For more on this see John Arnold's article on John Kinmont Moir in this journal.7
The Alex Thompson collection contains some early printed Victoriana that should prove useful for studies of Victorian printing and publishing. A full listing is not available though, and the collection must be browsed.
The Roberts collection of newspaper clippings, illustrations, publications and notes relating to Ballarat are also worth noting. Contained within are numerous lithographs done by Hermann Deutsch dating back to the 1860s and items like the Catalogue of the Grand Auction Bazaar, in Aid of the Funds of the Ballarat Mechanics' Institute, to be Held on Wednesday Evening, 19th August, 1863. Auctioneers W. C. Smith, J. S. Carver, James Baker, J. T. Oddie, Charles Dyte, M. O'Farrell and Henry Salmon (1863) that included books.
Book and auction catalogues are difficult to identify. Wallace Kirsop has worked on locating these, some of which are held in the library's collection. I have found some by browsing through the Edward Lyons papers and there are probably others embedded within other collections. Although not actively sought, the library holds catalogues in its main collection and bibliographical pamphlet series for George Robertson, A & R. H. T. Dwight, E. S. Wigg, F. F. Baillière, Charles E. Glass, Bourke Street Treasure Chest Bookshop, Bourke Street Bookshop, Hordern House, Berkelouw, James Dally, Kay Craddock, Gaston Renard Fine and Rare Books 1981–, Robert Muir Old and Rare Books lists 1974– and catalogues 1993–, Elizabeth Campbell Old and Rare Books 1987, James Bennett Pty Ltd's Stock list of Australiana, 1964, as well as the catalogues of the private libraries of Tristan Buesst, H. Rollo Hammet, the McCrae Family, George Russell, Thomas Stubbs and a number of auctions from both the 19th and 20th centuries.
Although not held in the Manuscripts section, a manuscript source unique to the library worth noting is the series of Victorian patents 1854–1904. Facets of the booktrade are of course only sparsely represented when compared to mining, but some interesting documents are held. The bulk of relevant patents applied for were not granted but indicate what people in trade were experimenting with. Most are in the fields of printing, engraving, and lithography; but newspapers, advertising and bookbinding occasionally appear. There are published yearly indexes that provide access through subjects and names and give a brief description. Both the patent papers including diagrams as well as the indexes have been microfiched. The most obvious example of
these is no. 1863a in 1874. This was Robert Bell's improvements to the stop cylinder printing press. A more obscure example is no. 2979 in 1881 for Edward Sandford's new method of utilizing the columns of newspapers for advertising and other “purposes”8, that was an idea for a trading scheme of set columns of type. This does not appear to have amounted to anything.
Published indexes for patents are also held for South Australia (1848–1878), West Australia (1896–1899), Queensland (1887–1893), and New South Wales (1854–1887), as well as the Australian official journal of patents that replaces the individual state records after federation.


Recent interest in family history and genealogy has bolstered collection development in this section of the library. There are many sources here that are useful for gathering details on figures in the trades related to the history of the book. Foremost is a collection of yearly directories for both the 19th and 20th centuries. The Victorian directories of course are best represented and there is an assortment for Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Tasmania and Brisbane. As we all probably already know, directories such as Baillière's not only listed residential addresses accompanied by occupation but at times trade lists such as bookbinders, booksellers, printers, publishers and stationers that can be very useful for assessing the trade. There is a folder located in Genealogy that lists sources by category for each state, which helps one to find what directories are available.
Other Australian sources located here are the Victorian electoral roles that show names and occupations, the Melbourne book of rates that shows city property values and the company in residence, cemetery listings for names, and the Police gazette that indexed all discharged prisoners and showed their appearance and occupation.
Biographical indexing sources like passenger lists, immigration indexes, censuses, parish registers and Probates index-Victoria 1841–1992 can provide details of those involved in the trade. I have been through the probates index–Victoria from 1841–1919 (NB — only the index is held at the library, records must be consulted at the PRO) and found approx. 1500 relevant entries. The index itself is useful as it allows one to establish a date of death and at times lists the beneficiary who can also be involved in the booktrade. An added benefit to this is that it lists not only proprietors but employees such as compositors, proof readers and journalists although it does not indicate where they worked. An example of the information given in an entry is that of the Melbourne printer William Moore, who died on 28 August 1880. The probate was lodged on 16 September 1880 and the benefactors were the printers A. Moore, J. Ferguson and J. M. Walker.9 The wills and probates themselves are held at the PRO and can contain important details of the person in question and sometimes even a business inventory.


Newspapers are valuable primary source material for the historian. They carry editorials concerning the news of the day, reports on industry, run features on individual companies, original fiction and poetry, list insolvents and dissolutions of partnerships, and have advertisements for local businesses and publications. Additionally, studies of newspapers themselves cannot be carried out without consultation of the newspapers themselves.
Although there are gaps in the series, the Newspaper Section possesses the most complete collection of Victorian newspapers in Australia. The biggest problem with newspapers as sources is that they offer little access. Indexes are few and often very limited, but they do offer more than just browsing. The State Library of Victoria boasts a range of indexes that are very useful, some of which cannot be found elsewhere. There are indexes

Detail from MF 367, Victorian Patents 1863. Improvements in printing presses. (State Library of Victoria).

to: the Adelaide advertiser(1932–1935), the Age (1868–1878, 1892–1899, 1950–1960), the Ararat and Pleasant Creek advertiser (1857–1924, 1928, 1949–1983), Argus (1846–1860, 1910–1946), Australasian (1866–1891), Australasian news summary (1960–1985), Australian (1824–1842), Ballarat star (1855–1869), Ballarat times, Dandenong advertiser and journal (1876–1909), Dandenong journal (1876–1915), Geelong advertiser (1966–1967), Gippsland times (1861–1900), Melbourne punch profiles (1904–1929), Nhill free press (1900–1950), The Portland mercury and Normanby advertiser (1842–1843), Shoalhaven (1856–1860), Stockwhip (1875–1877), Sydney gazettes (1803–1842), Sydney morning herald (1894–1984), Sydney morning herald and Sydney mail (1927–1940), Warrnambool examiner and Western District advertiser (1853–1859), and the Weekly times annual (1911–1934).
The larger indexes list printing, publishing, libraries, etc. individually but the smaller ones require browsing through the various headings, for instance industries, dissolution of partnerships, and insolvencies. Many of these do not index obituaries or advertisements. An example of the usefulness of the smaller indexes taken from Lorna L. Banfield's Ararat and Pleasant Creek advertiser index 1857–1924, 1928, 1949,–1983 is J. Cannon's bookselling and newsagent's business that was established in 1857 and can be traced through a move to new premises in 1900. A 1914 advertisement sees the firm as “The Progressive Booksellers” and sporting outfitters that were offering social and office stationery. Finally we learn of the newsagency being sold by Mrs J. Boyles to Mr and Mrs McKnight in 1977. All of which has been taken from the index alone.
In this paper I have tried to indicate some likely sources for studies of the history of the book. Of course I am not able to list everything and there are a good number of items that contain useful information but are not related to the discipline directly, such as printed items themselves, local histories, biographical sources and the like. It should be borne in mind that each study dictates its own path of useful sources and will lead the researcher in any number of directions.
Stephen Herrin


John Arnold, “Choose your author as you would choose a friend: circulating libraries in Melbourne, 1930–1960”. La Trobe Library journal, vol.10, no.40, 1987, pp.77–96.


Thomas Darragh, “A directory of engravers and lithographers working in Victoria in the nineteenth century: a description and some sources. BSANZ bulletin no. 19, 1995, pp.231–40.


“List of fires: Victoria”. Australasian insurance and banking record, vol.8, no.2, 1884, p. 88.


J. H. Worthington, Victoria, Legislative Assembly index to the Parliamentary papers, Reports of Select Committees, and Returns to orders, Bills, etc. 1851–1909. Melbourne, J. Kemp, Govt Printer, [1909], p. 272. Many others only appear as surnames.


“Imports: books”. Journal of commerce, 20 Oct. 1860.


The Victorian insolvent list from 1842, to the end of June, 1862, and public assignments from 1854, to the end of June, 1862. Melbourne, J. Noble Wilson, [1862], p. 58.


John Arnold, “An extraordinary man: John Kinmont Moir”. La Trobe Library journal, vol.12, nos 47 & 48, 1991, pp.100–106.


Victorian patents and patentees volume XVI. Indexes for the year 1881. Melbourne, John Ferres, Government Printer, 1887, pp. 21–22.


Index of probates — Victoria 1853–1888. Melbourne, Macbeth Genealogical Books, 1992?