Sunday, July 31, 2016


First in a new Little Darwin occasional  post  dealing with the wonderful  world of books,  art , ephemera, postcards,  auctions , the  BBC Antiques  Roadshow .
SOB and  sob again  . This was the recent  tantalising email sent to this blog from the   Cairns  Library three day book sale  which  Little Darwin  failed to attend because the office  jet  was in  for a grease and  oil change . There must have been untold  treasures  hidden  there ;  one of  our  miserable  runners only  bought  15  volumes .


High flying shoes
An auction to turn you green  with envy was the sale of the   Denis  Joachim Collection  of Australian colonial books, fine art, prints  and photographs   conducted by Mossgreen , Melbourne.
Glancing through the fabulous catalogue , certain items  stood out : photographs taken by  Douglas Stuart Wylie  of  the 1926 Aerial Expedition to Northern Australia  including Camooweal, Wyndham, Brunette Downs , Newcastle Waters ,Wave Hill, Cloncurry , Hermannsburg Mission ,Pine Creek  and Melville Island ; early views of South Australia by Captain Samuel Sweet , involved in the building of the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin , spent time at the Roper River in the Northern Territory where  supplies were  brought  for the  project ;  items relating to Amy Johnson  who made  a solo flight from England to Darwin in 1930 and endorsed shoes here , including her fur lined  leather helmet , a signed postcard   and a  presentation  album from  the NSW Masonic Club to her , estimated to bring  $8000-$15,000  ; a rare souvenir of the first Australian naval engagement of the  first world war   in which the Sydney sank  the German cruiser Emden ; circa 1890 albumen prints  by Charles Henry Kerry of  Tonga, Treasury Island , Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia  and  Tokelau ; a complete set of Dampier's voyages , $10,000-$15,000.; numerous early Aboriginal  photographs and paintings of  their way of life ; New Zealand  and  its Maoris .
Because of our interest in  the Northern Territory , Magnetic Island researcher  Gary Davies passed  to us his copy of  The Photographs  of Baldwin Spencer, appointed  biologist and photographer  for the Horn Expedition, the first scientific   expedition  to  Central Australia, who in 1901 ,  with Frank Gillen, went from Oodnadatta in South Australia to Borroloola in the NT , taking 500  glass plate photographs and  3000 feet of  moving film and recordings of  Aboriginal songs .
The superb collection  includes a  chapter by Nicolas Peterson  showing how Spencer's photographic imagery had  influenced  Australian advertising  to promote   tourism ,  theatre . It specifically mentions  a photograph of a man wearing a high, curved   emu  totem  head dress .
A recent Little Darwin acquisition , north of Cairns , was  a circa  1950s prospectus for  the Art Training Institute which  included the  above  work  by German poster artist  Gert Sellheim   for The Australian National  Travel Association ,   inspired  by  the Spencer   photograph .
The Spencer  book contains a  circa  1912   view  of  Aboriginal  fringe dwellers in Darwin  beach shacks , one  bearing the name  NED   (Kelly ? ) painted on it , which  appears to be in  an  area now  close to  where  Chinese interests  plan to build  a  luxury  hotel with a  room  for  high rollers on  top .