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“Per ardua ad libros” The Friends of the University of Sydney Library 1961–1984

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Libraries have, fortunately, always had Friends, as well as users and readers. An early example of one such Friend is seen in Fisher Library's copy (at RB 8236.2 Fol.) of Erasmus' edition of the works of St. Jerome (Basel 1536, 37). This was given in 1682 by Abbot Johann to his monastery's library at Wengen, near Ulm. Like many other Friends before and since, Abbot Johann recorded his gift by means of a printed bookplate.

Closer to home we have the magnificent precedents of David Scott Mitchell (1836–1907) and Sir William Dixson (1870–1952).

Closer still we have the Fisher Library of the University of Sydney, the story of which needs in the present context no further exposition from me.

Given the way that other “named” libraries have survived through the centuries in Europe, it would seem that munificence vis-a-vis libraries and book collecting is one tested and proven way of assuring for oneself a sort of distinctly unbookish immortality. A thought assuredly not far distant from the minds of those early benefactors who sought and strove to hold Time at bay. Nor is it far removed from the thinking of commercial bodies today in the U.S.A. and in Canada.

The same rationalization has yet to surface in Australia. Indeed, perhaps here, thanks to generations of diligent Scottish migrants, a McDonalds Library might be accepted, although I am less sure about a Colonel Sanders' Library (with appropriately modified exterior) or a library where “only the best will do”. Nonetheless, I leave these thoughts with suitably qualified tycoons, magnates and millionaire entrepreneurs.

Immortality as such did not, I imagine, loom large in the minds of the three men who in the Sydney of 1961 conjoined to conceive the Friends of the University of Sydney Library.note Nor was the idea as such a new one, however surprising that might seem from the perspective of 1984 with its growing plethora of Friends for zoos, theatres, art-galleries and museums.

Photograph facing page 33: The present Fisher Library, opened 1963.

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Similar schemes had surfaced in Europe in the 'twenties, then as now a time of tightening belts. They had rapidly multiplied throughout the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in North America, with its tailor-made tradition of alumni societies. The first Friends of a university library group in the U.S.A. was at Harvard in 1925: thirty years later the same country had some 650 Friends organisations. In Australia too, the Public Library of South Australia, faced with a minuscule government budget, had launched its Friends in the 'thirties (1932). It was their Constitution that was used as a model for the Sydney offspring a generation later.

Our three men were hard-headed pragmatists. They were also eminent professionals, and as doctor, lawyer and librarian represented three of the oldest professions to combine public skills with book collecting and bibliographical expertise. They were Sir Edward Ford (born 1902), medical man, academic and collector; Sir John Ferguson (1881–1969), lawyer and Australian bibliographer par excellence; and Dr. Andrew Osborn, University Librarian (1959–62), fresh from the ivied walls of Harvard itself.

Once mooted, the idea was not allowed to wither. At a “provisional general meeting” on 5 October 1961, in the University Staff Club, over dinner, eight people assembled, their minds brimming with ambitious plans, embryonic constitutions, eye-catching circulars and subtle printed appeals. They were: Sir Edward Ford (chairman), Sir John Ferguson, C. M. Hotimsky, Wallace Kirsop, Walter Stone, Professor J. M. Ward, Miss Jean Whyte and Miss Beatrice Wines. It was a judicious mixture of practising collectors, librarians and academics, of people who knew their books.

The meeting appointed a planning committee of Walter Stone (printer, collector, expert in Australian literature), C. M. Hotimsky (librarian and devilishly astute collector) and Wallace Kirsop (bibliographer and scholar). Dr. Kirsop was, incidentally, later (1968) to be instrumental in bringing the Friends of Monash University Library into being.

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During the next six months the provisional planning committee met three times, with Dr. A. Osborn in attendance. They drew up, examined, revised, re-examined, amended the draft Constitution, which was in turn subjected to a more public scrutiny on 13 March 1962 before a provisional general committee — a good number this — of twelve. On the last day of that same month, the first Annual General Meeting took place in the Senate Room of the University. There were 38 present.

The essence of the three-page Constitution lies in its definition of the Society's aims (par. 2(i)): “To assist, encourage and promote the interests of the University of Sydney Library in such ways as the Society may determine, and in particular

  • a) by gifts of money, books and other property
  • b) to furnish expert advice and assistance and to report the whereabouts of books, manuscripts or other material that may be of use to the Library
  • c) by such other manner as the Society may from time to time determine.”

Under the chairmanship of Sir Edward Ford, who was elected President, a post he was to hold in unbroken sequence until the May of 1972, the assembly resolved that each Friend should subscribe (the word “donate” came in later) one pound a year to the fledgling Society. There were in addition two further categories of membership. Friends could, in lieu of (or of course in addition to) their yearly pound of money, donate books or manuscripts to the Library. Or they could, in a peculiarly gentlemanly sort of way, promise “to assist if special need arises”.

It is not known what our original trio of pragmatists thought of this particular loophole. What is known is that when the crunch came, as come it had to, in the Book of Hours Appeal of 1972–73, the urgent cries for assistance netted a mere $402, which was for those with calculators, a tiny 6.18% of the purchase price of the 15th-century manuscript.

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In this double-edged context, we can note that at that distant inaugural Annual General Meeting, total membership was declared to stand at 140 (see here Appendix II). Also announced was the Friends' first purchase: a 15th-century French manuscript discovered by a Friend on a routine patrol in Tyrrell's book shop. It was bought for 20 pounds. The same purchase gave the newly elected Secretary, Dr. R. I. Jack, an apposite opportunity to proselytize for the Friends in the columns of Biblionews.note

Spreading the word was in fact to pre-empt much of the deliberations within the four Committee meetings that took place before the second Annual General Meeting (11 March 1963). Apart from drawing up a new prospectus, designing a bookplate and suitable stationery, the Committee (30 April 1962) called for appropriate publicity in the Union Recorder, in The Gazette, in the Sydney Morning Herald.note They decided that lists of accessions should be sent to Biblionews and Southerly: talked of contacting “Melbourne literary journals and business firms … columnists in influential daily papers” and vowed to “circularize university staff”.

When much of this white-hot urgency proved to be “inconclusive” (20 June 1962), the Committee looked instead to its own house and “an approach to defaulting subscribers was authorised”. There was more talk of a “standard policy for reminding over-due subscribers” on 10 January 1963, when the Librarian-elect, Mr. H. Bryan (1963–80) was one of the ten present. In a less punitive way, the new brochure and bookplate were displayed and there was a lively discussion on the production of a Friends' Christmas card and on the “publication of a printed periodical”.

The Christmas card issue (“a second card to show Thomas Fisher's house” (3 July 1963)) was to surface regularly for the next eighteen months. It was shelved for the Christmas of 1963 (“cards of other associations are not selling well this year” (1 October 1963)). It was abandoned altogether on 9 June 1964, when the Committee received, with horror, their first firm quotation.

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But there were other points to exercise the Committee's minds. The five members who turned up on Wednesday, 3 July 1963 heard of a “prolonged controversy with the Income Tax authorities”, a knotty confrontation subsequently resolved, however, with the favourable result that all subscriptions (donations) were and are deemed to be tax-deductible for the subscriber (donor). The same five, after listening to Colin Berckelman's remarks “on the poverty of Australiana in the University Library”, unanimously agreed to buy from Francis Edwards in London the 1739–45 set of Thomas Rymer's Foedera.

Writ large, Foedera, Conventiones, Litterae, et Cujuscunque Generis Acta Publica, The Hague, 1739–45, this ten-volume work established a hefty precedent for the bookshelves of similarly authoritative and rare works which the Friends were, at the suggestion of the Librarian or of relevant University departments, to purchase for the Library down the years. By a curious logistical hiccup, it was discovered in 1967, when cataloguing backlogged antiquarian books, that the Library already possessed this particular edition. The Librarian acted deftly (30 June 1967) and the Friends' first substantial purchase, still bearing its Friends' bookplate, now rests tranquilly in the State Library of New South Wales (at S.C.275–84F). This particular precedent was not to be repeated.

In the same year (1 October 1963) the Committee, following the spirit of their new Constitution, flexed their bibliophile muscles in calling for lists of the Library's desiderata to be drawn up and “to be made available to Friends who actively rummage in second-hand bookshops”. They also voted for substantial support towards the Library's purchase of the late Professor J. R. Stewart's “magnificent collection of archaeological and numismatic books and periodicals” (Secretary's Report for 1963–64: see too Appendix VI no. 8). The same Report notes the new total of 162 members (see Appendix II), sadly records the death of Martin Dobrillanote but warmly comments, no doubt “pour encourager les autres”,

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that the bequest to the Library of his “large and eclectic” collection will ensure a “posthumous perpetuation”.

There was some steam lost in the Friends' year of March 1964 to the March of 1965. The first Committee meeting (14 May 1964) was adjourned for want of a quorum. At the only other meeting (9 June 1964), although “a proposed women's group” provoked lively comment, we also find that “discussion on further publicity reached no decision”. There was, however, a vigorous Members' Evening held on Friday, 20 November 1964 (the early Friends were keen on Friday evening meetings) where Sir John Ferguson presided over much discussion and animated boasting from book-laden members.

More importantly, books kept coming in to the Library. In the Report for 1964–65, the Secretary could announce that membership had risen to 174 (see Appendix II), that individual Friends had donated 128 items (including Theodor Dorstenius' Botanicon of 1540), that the Committee had purchased for the Library the entire collection (over 1000 volumes) of the Highland Society of New South Wales. The sad news of the death of Dr. G. A. M. Heydon, the Friends' most generous benefactor in their opening years, was leavened by the presentation to the Library by his heir of Dr. Heydon's “considerable book collection”.

Although, in a like manner, the incoming Committee was grieved to hear of the death (22 April 1965) of Colin Berckelman, one of their more active members, they were also to set a sparkling pace for their year of office (1965–66). Suggestions flew fast and furious. A sub-committee recommended the publication of “facsimile editions of rare, small items … best suited to the Friends' capabilities” (7 May 1965). To this end, Sir John Ferguson had approved of the reproduction of his copy of Christopher Brennan's XVIII Poems (Sydney, 1897). It was also proposed that Sir John's notes on the books he had displayed at the warmly remembered Members' Evening (20 November 1964) “be cyclostyled and bound in a cover printed by the Piscator

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Press: “unlike the facsimile editions, this would not be for sale to the general public”.

In a postscriptal sort of way, the same meeting decided to donate 70 pounds to the Italian Department's Appeal (launched on 2 April 1965) on the 700th anniversary of Dante's birth. This same “cri de coeur”, warmly welcomed and abetted by the Friends, was to increase the Library's holdings of Italian books from 6,000 to 9,000.

Later meetings that year (18 June and 2 September 1965) designed a letter to be circulated amongst the University's teaching staff, sanctioned “approaches to industry, business and the professions”. A final meeting (21 September 1965) approved the Librarian's suggestion that all items printed at and on the Library's Piscator Press (see Appendix VI) be regularly distributed to Friends. Also discussed were the “possibilities of exhibition in a city gallery”. The latter suggestion underlines the revived pragmatism of the Friends who saw in publications, in big business and in “down town” publicity their only real opportunities of generating substantial sponsorship.

Curiously the Secretary's Report for 1965–66 records “a year of quiet activity”. Membership now stood at 179 and amongst the 254 items donated by individual Friends the Secretary notes a manuscript by the sometime University Librarian John Le Gay Brereton. It was titled “A Natural Mistake”.

Undaunted by their Secretary's sobriety, the Committee launched itself anew into an effervescent year. On 22 April 1966 they decreed that “articles be written for publication in professional journals and in Biblionews” (which expression of sentiment at least put Biblionews firmly in its place). They called shrewdly for “contacts with deceased estates”, and, less shrewdly, for “contacts with the armed forces”. They discussed their purchase of the Library's forthcoming One Millionth Book which “should have relevance to undergraduate studies … intrinsic interest and publicity value”. The chilling news that Sir John Ferguson (being after all a collector) had not yet surrendered his copy

  ― 40 ―
of Brennan's XVIII Poems was countered by Walter Stone's warm offer “to print the text of the notes by Sir John [Members' Evening of 20 November 1964] as a present to the Friends”.note

A later meeting (19 July 1966) discussed the Friends' contribution to the Library's purchase of the Colin Berckelman Collection. On this occasion, spurred by the news that the One Millionth Book was to be the Berckelman copy of Henry Lawson's Short Stories in Prose and Verse (Sydney, 1894), the meeting moved that a further $1000 should be given “at once” towards the Library's purchase of their late colleague's library. Those present (there were eleven) were also informed that a recent circular to the University's teaching staff had brought in 38 new members, that a recent article in The Gazette note had brought in one new Friend.

The Lawson item was duly handed over to the Library by Sir Edward Ford at a ceremony on 24 November 1966.note Although viewed by its abashed author as little more than a “curiosity in printing”, the Lawson book represented a focal point in the first decade of existence for the publicity-hungry Friends. It was also in the same year (1966–67) that the hard-working Committee pressured for the first time some 16 corporate members to add their considerable weight to the cause. Like the Lawson book, this is again a pivotal point of the Friends' striving towards substantial funding. That the momentum engendered and engineered in this heady year eventually lost its pace was perhaps inevitable. What remains as a crystalline fact is that the Friends will always need friends of this stature.

The same thought probably loomed large in the minds of the 1967–68 Committee. There was discussion (11 May and 24 May 1967) of a “business men's reception” at the Library. The Secretary was delegated with the task of drawing up a new brochure. There were dark murmurings about those Friends “financially considerably in arrears” which culminated in the supreme exorcistic decision that they be

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“deleted from the Addressograph” (30 June 1967). On this same day the Committee heard of the generous donations to the Library by two Honorary Friends, Mr. W. H. Deane (obiit 1984) and Mrs. Margery Keesing (obiit 1983) (“that most munificent patron”, the Librarian was to call her in a letter to the Secretary of 29 June 1972).

They expressed too support for the Library's Under-graduate Collection and in quick succession voted for funds to be supplied towards the Library's purchase of Professor K. G. Cross' collection (30 August 1967) and the rich 1000-volume strong library of Mrs. Monner (1 November 1967). This latter collection also contained, in the form of the Mainz, 1491 Ortus Sanitatis (slightly imperfect, with handcoloured illustrations) the first incunabulum acquired by the Library under the aegis of Mr. H. Bryan (19 April 1968).

On Wednesday, 15 November 1967 the Committee found tabled before it off-prints of the Secretary's new recruiting article in Apollonia,note the journal of the University's Dental Alumni, who have in turn constantly figured amongst the Friends' most enduring supporters. A further field for potential new members, but this was clearly by way of repetition,note was canvassed by the meeting of Friday, 9 February 1968 which “urged possible approaches to book collectors”.

Those of the Friends, now declared (Secretary's Report for 1967–68) to be 251 strong, who warily came along to the University's Senate Room on Saturday, 15 March 1968 for the seventh Annual General Meeting heard Sir Edward Ford's presidential address on “Association copies”, a talk seen by the Secretary as “a delightful and surprisingly romantic exposition on a number of volumes medical and literary”. They also heard that the Friends' balance now stood at $3600 (amended on 5 July 1968 to “some $5000”). This firm financial footing was not forgotten by the four Committee meetings for 1968–69. There was much buying. More money towards the Monner Collection, various reprints of scientific periodical runs, facsimiles, and a clutch of rariora such as John Dryden's Examen Poeticum (London, 1693).

  ― 42 ―

There was also a faint flicker of the old entrepreneurial spirit on 4 November 1968 when members heard that the President's Address to the seventh Annual General Meeting was “to be sent out shortly as the second occasional publication of the Friends”.note The Friends were again mindful of their foundation President, Sir Edward Ford, when on 4 December 1969 he retired from his office as Director of the University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. With the notable help of the Department of Preventive Medicine the Friends purchased a mint copy of Thomas Crooke's illustrated folio Microcosmographia (London, 1615) which they presented, no doubt much to Sir Edward's well concealed chagrin, to the Library.

It also fell to Professor emeritus Sir Edward Ford, on the occasion of the eighth Annual General Meeting (10 May 1969), to publicly lament the death of his eminent fellow collector and bibliographer Sir John Ferguson,note who had, he averred, always evinced a “great and warm interest in the Friends … which had continued during the course of his long illness.”

It seems to this by no means impartial chronicler that, as they emerged from their exciting 'sixties and entered the sober 'seventies, the Friends left behind them not so much their initial drive, more the panache, flair, enthusiasm, that had first buttressed their hopes and guided their steps.

Committee meetings continued to be regularly held. They passed by in a blur of book ordering and often desultory discussion. The range of talks given broadened dramatically (see Appendix V). There were even moments of shocked excitement as when it was “discovered that neither the present Chancellor nor the present Vice-Chancellor appear to be Friends” (30 June 1970). The same Committee heard too of “a certain decline in active participation”, an observation that now appears with tautening regularity up to the mid 'seventies. The Librarian's comment at the tenth Annual General Meeting (8 May 1971) on “a year of mingled frustration and achievement” presumably mirrored too the feelings of the Friends.

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But the machinery established after so much discussion by the early Friends continued to function. Scores of purchases were made: donations of books and other items flowed in, in an ever thickening stream. At the same time the Friends invested heavily in helping (1 December 1971) the Library to buy the Celtica collection of Mrs. Nora Kershaw Chadwick (Cambridge), to buy items from the Ingleton Collection (14 September 1973), to buy Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson material (16 September 1974), Norman Lindsay and Douglas Stewart items (8 March 1977), even (11 October 1977) a substantial Cyrano de Bergerac manuscript (see too Appendix III).

There were sporadic attempts to rekindle the earlier flames of promise. A meeting of 13 April 1972 discussed “ideas which had not definitely been translated into action and either should be so translated or else definitely abandoned”. Later that same month (24 April 1974) the Committee called for regular notices in University publications, for “articles of some length” in six named weeklies and monthlies, for a “display window in the Bank of New South Wales, the AMP and the Qantas Buildings”. The issue of postcards and greeting cards was resurrected.

No doubt attempts on these lines were made by individual Committee members. They foundered. Matters were not helped by the eleventh Annual General Meeting (10 May 1972) when Sir Edward Ford on retiring from his foundation Presidency was elected “with acclamation” Patron of the Friends, but where too the Librarian spoke of “a climate of financial stringency”. The Secretary, although writing of the talk given that afternoon, touched a Delphic vein when he called it “at the same time amusing and interesting, and sad and regrettable”.

Throughout 1973 the Committee refocused their attention on the seductive issue of corporate membership. Which was, and remains perforce, the Friends' only real hope of attracting real money. Their discussions culminated in the invitation of 21 business men to a tour of the Library and a function (i.e. sherry) in the Macdonald Room on 29 October

  ― 44 ―
1973. The appeal met with limited success and the Friends have still to improve on the pinnacle of help from the business and commercial community which the Committee first scaled in 1966–67.

Other peaks, however, were and are still in sight. While the Committee diligently bought books, planned an increasing annual number of talks and visits to outside libraries, while financial membership (see Appendix II) oscillated between 102 (1973–74), 67 (1974–75) and 155 (1975–76), a bumper year suddenly grew into being. This was in 1976–77, at the end of which the Friends found themselves to consist of 222 financial members. Three factors lent impetus to this inspiring upswing.

There was a Letter sent to all members of the University's teaching staff. The Friends hosted the inaugural meeting (7 July 1976) of the Christopher Brennan Society when in the general excitement people rushed to join both associations. Moreover, this euphoric evening was closely preceded (2 June 1976) by the presentation to the Library by the Friends (Walter Stone) of the Two Millionth Book. Which wasn't, it may be noted in passing, a book at all, but a manuscript: of John Le Gay Brereton's Sea and Sky.

It was all very apposite. In Walter Stone we find the archetypal bookman, whose expertise was a direct link with the founders of the Friends. In John Le Gay Brereton we find the Library's first full-time Director (1914–21). Even more appositely, we find that the Address, on that strangely moving late afternoon, was given by Dr. A. Osborn, Librarian from 1959–62, in the very cradle-years of the Friends.

Such felicitous conjunctions occur but rarely. There was to be a touch of the same elusively commingled emotions in the March of 1983, when unbelievably the Library's Three Millionth Book was trundled into view. It was a very solid book: G. B. Bodoni's sharply elegant printing (1786) of Gli Amore Pastorali di Dafni e di Cloe. The President, Sydney Levine, on behalf of the Friends, presented it to the Library. Fittingly and movingly, the Bodoni book came from the collection of Walter Stone, printer and Friend. It had been

  ― 45 ―
presented in turn to the Friends by Mrs. Nancy Johnson. The Address was given, with his accustomed verve, by Harrison Bryan, Librarian from 1963 to 1980.

The Friends, now in their third decade, have had to learn that the price of healthy funds is constant publicity. It is their job to badger the business world, to remind the University's graduates of the needs of the Library they once successfully used, to alert the academic community with news of the machinery the Friends have so painstakingly constructed. Well might the Treasurer, in his usual purple prose, pronounce, as the Friends lurched into the anxious 'eighties: “clearly, the writing is on the Library wall, the tocsin is tolling etc.” (27 April 1982).

But rhetoric butters no parsnips. What is needed is action. Not so much from the Friends, who have long since proved themselves, but rather from all those outside who believe in, rely on and look to the Library of the University of Sydney.

No account of the Friends, even one as incomplete as this, would be accurate and just if it failed to acknowledge:

  • those unnamed Committee members who over the years have freely given of their time and energy
  • the Library itself which has long borne all administrative costs
  • and, in the same context, the unfailing and proficient logistical support afforded by the Librarian's secretary Mrs. Patricia Jackson and her successor Mrs. Rae Galtsmith-Clarke.

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Appendix I Officers of the Friends of the University of Sydney Library

President   Secretary   Treasurer  
1962  Sir Edward Ford  R. I. Jack  Hazel King 
1963  Sir Edward Ford  R. I. Jack  Hazel King 
1964  Sir Edward Ford  R. I. Jack  Hazel King 
1965  Sir Edward Ford  R. I. Jack  Hazel King 
1966  Sir Edward Ford  R. I. Jack  Hazel King 
1967  Sir Edward Ford  J. V. S. Megaw  C. Campbell 
1968  Sir Edward Ford  J. V. S. Megaw  J. Waldersee 
1969  Sir Edward Ford  B. K. Martin  G. Harrison 
1970  Sir Edward Ford  B. K. Martin  G. Harrison 
1971  Sir Edward Ford  B. K. Martin  T. G. Vallance 
1972  W. Stone  Heather Radi  T. G. Vallance 
1973  W. Stone  Heather Radi  T. G. Vallance 
1974  W. Stone  J. Fletcher  T. G. Vallance 
1975  D. A. Richardson  J. Fletcher  T. G. Vallance 
1976  D. A. Richardson  J. Fletcher  B. A. Taylor 
1977  S. Levine  J. Fletcher  B. A. Taylor 
1978  S. Levine  Margaret Lundie  B. A. Taylor 
1979  J. Fletcher  Margaret Lundie  B. A. Taylor 
1980  I. Maxwell  Margaret Lundie  B. A. Taylor 
1981  I. Maxwell  Margaret Lundie  J. Fletcher 
1982  S. Levine  Margaret Lundie  J. Fletcher 
1983  S. Levine  Jean Murray  J. Fletcher 
1984  Margaret Lundie  Jean Murray  J. Fletcher 

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Appendix II Financial Membership of the Friends of the University of Sydney Library

Year   Financial members   Amount donated  
1961–62  47  $358.20 
1962–63  99  648.00 
1963–64  93  1158.00 
1964–65  109  883.20 
1965–66  109  689.50 
1966–67  174  2885.20 
(This amount includes $1600
from 16 corporate members) 
1967–68  101 (4 corp. mem.)  1141.00 
1968–69  86 (10)  1667.10 
1969–70  96 (4)  1092.60 
1970–71  80 (9)  1590.00 
1971–72  69 (5)  1046.00 
1972–73  122 (6)  2236.00 
1973–74  102 (8)  2074.00 
1974–75  67 (3)  1027.00 
1975–76  115 (4)  1583.00 
1976–77  222 (3)  2002.50 
1977–78  150  1563.00 
1978–79  165note   2010.00 
1979–80  286note   3672.00 
1980–81  (for this year, exact
figures are not recoverable) 
1981–82  237note (6)  3122.00 
1982–83  67  1548.55 
1983–84  74 (3)  3567.05 

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Appendix III Purchases by the Friends up to 7 May 1984

Individual items

The Friends have bought for the Library in excess of 320 separate items. These include manuscripts (mediaeval and modern), early printed books, modern limited editions, illustrated works, reprints (particularly of periodical runs), facsimiles and microfilms.

Additional material

In 1964–65 the Friends bought the Library of the Highland Society of New South Wales. The Friends have made substantial contributions towards the Library's purchase of:

  • the J. R. Stewart Collection (1963–64)
  • the C. Berckelman Collection (1966–67)
  • the K. G. W. Cross Collection (1967–68)
  • the Monner Collection (1967–69)
  • the Mrs. N. Chadwick Collection (1970–71)
  • Mary Gilmore and Henry Lawson material (1974–75)
  • Douglas Stewart and Norman Lindsay material (1976–77)
  • G. N. Stewart manuscripts (1979–80)
  • the Hince Collection (1980–81)

In 1981–82 the Friends bought 48 items from Professor F. May's Library, and a collection of 84 three-decker novels.

Since 1981 they have bought 42 items from the W. Stone Collection. (For a description of the mediaeval and 16th-century manuscripts bought by the Friends, see K. V. Sinclair, Descriptive Catalogue of Mediaeval and Renaissance Western Manuscripts. Sydney, Sydney University Press, 1969, nos. 133–47.)

Appendix IV Donations by individual Friends up to 7 May 1984

By this date, Friends had contributed to the Library 12,318 items. This includes the gift (1974–76) of 2,391 items by Professor and Mrs. F. May, excludes the contents of 46 cartons and 23 mailbags donated (1977–78) by Dr. A. Osborn.

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Appendix V Functions and talks arranged by the Friends

31 March 1962  Dr. A. Osborn (Library).
Inaugural address.
Tour of work-site of the new Fisher Library. 
11 March 1963  Sir Frank Francis (British Museum).
Sir Frank talked “with charming discursiveness” on libraries. 
9 August 1963  H. Bryan (Library).
On university libraries in the U.K. and U.S.A. (illustrated). 
6 September 1963  Function at the official Opening of the new Fisher Library. This included a “rousing recruiting call” by Sir Edward Ford. 
28 September 1963  Private viewing of an exhibition of mediaeval manuscripts, and facsimiles. Talk by Dr. R. I. Jack (History). 
21 March 1964  Professor J. M. Ward (History).
On Libraries in U.S.A. and England. 
4 July 1964  Private viewing of exhibition of Russian books. Subsequently declared opened by G. D. Richardson (Public Library of N.S.W.). Guide: C. M. Hotimsky (Library). 
20 November 1964  Members' Evening.
Chaired by Sir John Ferguson. 
27 March 1965  J. Metcalfe (University of N.S.W.).
Education for librarianship at home and abroad. 
24 September 1965  Members' Evening.
Chaired by Professor G. A. Wilkes (English). 
29 October 1965  Film evening.
Images Medievales, The Searching Heart and Love of Books.
Commentators: Dr. R. I. Jack (History) and J. V. S. Megaw (Archaeology). 
18 March 1966  B. Scott (Macquarie University).
On establishing a new university library. Exhibition of Islamic books and manuscripts: opened by Dr. Frowein, Consul-General for the Netherlands. 
30 June 1966  N. J. B. Plomley.
In search of the Tasmanian: a journey among the records in Australia and Europe. 
21 October 1966  J. V. S. Megaw (Archaeology).
Penny-whistles and prehistory (illustrated). 
3 November 1966  Dr. W. Kirsop (French).
Prospects for the history of the Australian book trade. 
24 November 1966  The Friends (Sir Edward Ford) present to the Library the One Millionth Book. 
22 April 1967  J. J. Graneek (A.N.U.).
Neither rich nor rare: an enquiry into the nature of certain old books.
Exhibition of historic medical books. 
7 July 1967  Professor K. F. Russell (University of Melbourne).
The mediaeval doctor and his patient (illustrated). 
29 July 1967  Opening of exhibition of mediaeval manuscripts.
Guide: Dr. K. V. Sinclair (French). 
4 October 1967  I. W. A. Spink (Music).
Handel, sources and resources. 
15 November 1967  Members' Evening.
Chaired by Pamela Green (Library). 
15 March 1968  Sir Edward Ford.
Some association copies.
Exhibitions from: German Consulate-General and of: Sir Edward Ford's gifts to the Library and of: items associated with Sir Edward's war-time service in New Guinea. 
8 May 1968  Professor J. Dunston (Latin).
Early Italian book illumination (illustrated).
(With the Arts Association.) 
27 June 1968  H. Price.
Sydney University Press: three years of publishing. 
28 August 1968  W. Stone.
Items from his collection.
Pamela Green (Library).
On books of the 16th-18th centuries, from the Library's collections.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
16 October 1968  G. D. Richardson (Public Library of N.S.W.).
A storehouse for the nation's literature: the Public Library of New South Wales. 
4 December 1968  Retirement of Sir Edward Ford. To mark the occasion the Library acquires a copy of Crooke's Microcosmographia (London, 1615). 
10 May 1969  Film.
The True University
16 October 1969  Beatrice Wines (Library).
The new Fisher Library: a personal view.
(With the Arts Association.) 
4 December 1969  Dr. A. D. Crown (Semitic Studies).
Two mediaeval Hebrew manuscripts in the Nicholson Bequest. 
30 April 1970  Dr. A. W. James (Greek).
Books from his collection (illustrated). 
9 May 1970  Film.
The Restoration of Books: Florence, 19 68
30 June 1970  Professor B. Smith (Fine Arts).
The Power Institute of Fine Arts and the Power Research Library. 
8 June 1971  B. K. Martin (English).
Aspects of the mediaeval book and book illustration. 
19 August 1971  Opening of exhibition of Renaissance and 17th-century books.
Guide: Dr. A. Riemer (English). 
1 December 1971  W. Stone.
The enemies of books. 
13 April 1972  Professor L. R. Chambers (French).
Problems in collecting books in foreign languages for Australian universities. 
10 May 1972  J. V. S. Megaw (Archaeology).
The Celtic connection (illustrated). 
25 July 1972  Dr. M. G. Carter (Semitic Studies).
Fisher Library and Arabic. 
28 September 1972  Professor A. Brown (London).
The gentle art of dedicating books. 
29 November 1972  Dr. S. T. Knight (English).
Mrs. Chadwick and her collection. 
13 April 1973  Associate Professor B. Gandevia (University of N.S.W.).
Collecting medical and quack Australiana. (Held at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.) 
8 May 1973  Films of the Library. 
27 June 1973  Professor E. C. B. MacLaurin (Semitic Studies).
On items in his collection. 
1 August 1973  A. Roberts (History).
The Abbey and the Witches' Houses (illustrated).
(With the Australian Society for Historical Archaeology.) 
14 September 1973  Dr. A. Osborn.
Some reflections on collecting. 
23 October 1973  Dr. P. J. Stanbury (Macleay Museum).
Lives and books. The lives of the biologists Darwin and Wallace, and some bibliographical details of Darwin's books. 
26 March 1974  Dr. J. Masselos (History).
Traditions in Indian art (illustrated). 
7 May 1974  H. Bryan (Library).
On the Library's collections since 1963. 
13 June 1974  Members' Evening.
Chaired by W. Stone. 
6 August 1974  G. L. Fischer (Archivist).
If books can be archives, are archivists librarians (but never vice-versa)? 
16 September 1974  Sir Victor Windeyer.
On law books in his collection (illustrated). 
26 October 1974  Visit to Library of St. Patrick's College, Manly.
Guide: J. Fletcher (German). 
7 May 1975  M. Wilding (English).
The social and literary role of small private presses. 
10 July 1975  Visit to the Bishop Broughton Memorial Library at Moore Theological College, Sydney.
Guide: K. Robinson (Librarian). 
27 August 1975  Associate Professor W. Kirsop (Monash University).
Australian book-selling and publishing in the 1860s. 
22 October 1975  Professor G. D. Kilpatrick (Oxford).
Manuscripts and the New Testament. 
3 March 1976  E. F. D. Roberts (National Library of Scotland.
Books in the Middle Ages (illustrated). (With the Library Association of Australia (N.S.W.).) 
5 May 1976  J. Fletcher (German).
The history and holdings of the Library of St. Patrick's College, Manly (illustrated). 
26 May 1976  Nancy Keesing.
The life and works of C. J. Dennis (illustrated).
(With the English Association, Sydney Branch.) 
2 June 1976  The Friends (W. Stone) present to the Library the Two Millionth Book.
Address: Dr. A. Osborn. 
7 July 1976  A Christopher Brennan Evening.
With A. Clark, J. Fletcher and R. Marsden.
(With the Christopher Brennan Society.) 
24 August 1976  Dr. B. McMullin (Monash University).
The bibliographical press movement.
With a visit to and a print-in at The Piscator Press (H. Bryan). 
15 September 1976  R. Rosenthal (Joseph Regenstein Library, Chicago).
The trade in antiquarian books.
(With the Library Association of Australia (N.S.W.).) 
13 November 1976  Visit to the science fiction library of Ron Graham in East Roseville.
Guides: R. Graham and Pauline Dickinson (Library).
Afterwards at Robin Marsden's, East Roseville. 
15 February 1977  C. M. Hotimsky (London, Ontario).
Collecting Australiana overseas.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
8 March 1977  S. Levine.
The banknote as a historical document. 
27 April 1977  Launching of the Zimrat Haaretz (facsimile reprint). Inauguration of the Library's Sir Asher Joel Microfiche Collection in Hebrew Studies.
Chairman: Dr. A. D. Crown (Semitic Studies).
(With the Hebrew Society.) 
11 May 1977  H. Bryan (Library).
University Libraries in Britain (illustrated). 
21 May 1977  Manuscripts afternoon.
With W. Stone and J. Fletcher (German).
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
29 June 1977  D. Levine.
On collecting military books. 
23 August 1977  J. Fletcher (German).
The history and growth of the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel. 
11 October 1977  Barbara Palmer (Library).
Out-of-print books for the book collector, the bookseller and the librarian. 
22 November 1977  Visits to a) the Catholic Archives in St. Mary's Cathedral (Mons. C. Duffy) and b) the Rabbi Falk Memorial Library at the Great Synagogue (Rabbi R. Apple). 
29 January 1978  Visit to the Library of St. Patrick's College, Manly.
Guide: H. Arns (Librarian). 
27 February 1978  J. Holroyd.
John Ingleton and the Ingleton Collection. 
6 April 1978  Jean Stone.
The writings of Katherine Mansfield. 
9 May 1978  Margaret Sankey (French).
On a Cyrano de Bergerac manuscript recently acquired by the Library. 
21 June 1978  Associate Professor T. G. Vallance (Geology and Geophysics).
Books and rocks: notes of a Sabbatical in Britain and Switzerland. 
26 August 1978  Professor B. Hickey (Venice).
Australian literature in Italy.
(With the Fellowship of Australian Writers, the Book Collectors' Society of Australia and the Christopher Brennan Society.) 
14 September 1978  K. Turnell (Sydney Technical College).
Modern binding techniques (illustrated). 
19 February 1979  Visit to the Lane-Mullins Collection in Sancta Sophia College, Sydney.
Guide: J. Fletcher (German). 
6 March 1979  Patricia Quinn (Bank of N.S.W.).
Books for bankers. 
7 April 1979  Sale of antiquarian books.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
11 June 1979  An evening with Galway Kinnell.
(With the Christopher Brennan Society.) 
30 June 1979  W. R. Cummings.
Experiences in book collecting.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
20 August 1979  B. Dyster (University of N.S.W.).
Inventing the suburbs and making a fortune. 
23 October 1979  An evening in the Macleay Museum.
Guide: Dr. P. J. Stanbury (Curator). 
10 November 1979  Visit to the Macarthur-Onslow Library at Camden Park.
Guide: Associate Professor R. I. Jack (History). 
29 November 1979  Dr. F. Forster (Melbourne).
Early Australian publications on birth control (illustrated). 
6 March 1980  Virginia Wayland (U.S.A.).
The history of playing cards in the Far East (illustrated). 
5 May 1980  J. Fletcher (German).
The provenances of 16th-century books in N.S.W. 
19 April 1980  Sale of antiquarian books.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
11 June 1980  Pauline Dickinson (Library).
Aspects of science fiction collecting (illustrated). 
9 July 1980  Farewell dinner for Mr. and Mrs. H. Bryan. 
30 July 1980  C. M. Hotimsky.
On items from his collection of Russian and Australian material on the Pacific areas (illustrated). 
21 October 1980  G. L. Fischer (Archivist).
On the University of Sydney Archives (illustrated). 
5 November 1980  Visit to the New South Wales Parliamentary Library.
Guide: Dr. R. Cope (Librarian). 
9 March 1981  Dr. B. Haneman.
On collecting Quixote (illustrated). 
5 May 1981  J. Fletcher (German).
The Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel revisited (illustrated). 
2 June 1981  Shirley Singer and Colonel A. W. Sheppard.
On Australia's first participation in the Jerusalem Book Fair of 1981.
(With the Australia-Israel Society for Cultural Exchange.) 
22 June 1981  K. Smith (Archivist).
Archives and libraries. 
28 July 1981  K. Harding.
Books and their bindings (illustrated). 
15 September 1981  Dr. A. Osborn.
Some pitfalls in writing family and local history. 
29 October 1981  Dr. R. Alston (British Library).
On collecting ephemera.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
28 November 1981  Visit to Berkelouw's Book Barn in Berrima. 
16 March 1982  Dr. A. D. Crown (Semitic Studies).
The scientific examination of some Samaritan manuscripts. 
27 April 1982  S. Budavari.
On the Bibliotheca Corviniana. 
15 June 1982  M. Solling.
Local history, why and how it is written. 
9 August 1982  Dr. Nerida Newbigin (Italian).
From the Creator to the Last Judgment: uncatalogued plays in Italian libraries. 
5 October 1982  Suzanne Mourot.
Material concerning botany and botanists in the Mitchell Library. 
23 November 1982  Professor R. I. Jack (History).
Collecting Australian local history. 
9 March 1983  J. Fletcher (German).
J. N. Degotardi, printer, publisher, photographer.
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
28 March 1983  The Friends (S. Levine) present to the Library the Three Millionth Book.
Address: H. Bryan (National Library of Australia). 
10 May 1983  Janet Hine.
Indexing today, from cottage industry to computer. 
28 June 1983  Dr. B. Kiernan (English).
Researches on Henry Lawson. 
11 August 1983  Dr. J. Masselos (History).
Traditions of book illustration in India (illustrated). 
29 October 1983  Visit to the James Hardie Library.
Guide: R. Holden (Librarian).
(With the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.) 
10 November 1983  Nancy Bird Walton.
They printed so few: early aviation books. 
26 March 1984  F. Carleton (German).
The Early Imprints Project. 
7 May 1984  Dr. N. Radford (Library).
Who was Thomas Fisher? 

  ― 59 ―

Appendix VI The Piscator Press

Fisher Library, University of Sydney.

Press, and types used: Albion, Garamond and Perpetua.

(Issued over the imprint of the Fisher Press.)
1 A Press is Born. 1963
note 2 Friends of Sydney University Library. Secretary's Report (1963-64). 1964
3 Foscolo, Ugo. To Callirhoe. 1964

(Issued over the imprint of the Piscator Press.)
4 Foscolo, Ugo. The Sepulchres. 1964
5 Friends of Sydney University Library. Secretary's Report (1964-65). 1965
note 6 Quartet [A programme]. 1965
note 7 Friends of Sydney University Library. Secretary's Report (1965-66). 1966
note 8 Design for a Bookplate. 1966
note 9 Friends of Sydney University Library. Secretary's Report (1966-67). 1967
note 10 University of Sydney Library. Collection Building Through Collection Buying. 1968
note 11 Sydney University Library. Significant Rare Books. I A General Introduction and John Milton. A Select List. 1970
note 12 Sydney University Library. Significant Rare Books. II Hugh Macdonald and the Macdonald Collection. 1975
note 13 Sydney University Library. An Event of Some Significance for Scholarship. Ceremony of Presentation of the Two Millionth Book. 1976
note 14 Sydney University Library. Souvenir of a Print-in at the Fisher Library. 1976
note 15 McMullin, Brian J. Bibliographical Presses. 1978

For a complete check-list (up to 1970), see G. Farmer, Private Presses and Australia. With a check-list. Melbourne, 1972, p. 40.

  ― 60 ―


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