Text, Drawing & Print: A Portrait of Joachim von Sandrart

Together with fellow artist historians Geogio Vasari and Karel van Mander, the works of Joachim von Sandrart I (1606–1688) helped lay the foundation for the art historical philosophies in the Western tradition. Unlike Vasari’s Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori  (1550) and van Mander’s Het schilder-boeck (1604), Sandrart’s dictionary of art and compilation of artist biographies, the Teutsche Academie (1675-1679), differs from its predecessors in that it is sumptuously illustrated and of practical appeal.[1]

The scope of Sandrart’s publication exceeded all previous examples of art historiography, but also includes some curious interludes such as translations from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a reference to the beer produced on his wife’s family estate in Stockau, Germany, and a lengthy autobiography.


The Ephesian Artemis

The Ephesian Artemis from the Teutsche Academie (image from BibliOdessey blog; Melbourne UL copy currently on exhibit).


The red chalk drawing of Sandrart in the Baillieu Library Print Collection, which had no previous artist attribution, was identified just last year by Sandrart expert, Assistant Professor Susanne Meurer (University of Western Australia), as a self-portrait.[2] Below the drawing is an inscription written in his hand, similar in appearance to those inscriptions which appear below printed portraits. Although he was widely travelled, as the inscription indicates, Sandrart identified himself as being from Stockau, which dates the drawing to after the time of his marriage in 1637.


Sandrart self portrait in red chalk.

Sandrart self portrait in red chalk.


This drawing parallels his painted self-portrait of 1641, which likewise depicts the same bust in the background.  A close match to the drawing appears in Dr Johann Jacob Volkmann’s ‘improved’ edition of the Teutsche Academie, which portrays Sandrart’s dignified mien, along with his inscription, in the full clarity of a print.[3]

Sandrart’s output of paintings and drawings is substantial, but while he oversaw the production of many prints, he produced few of his own. In the Baillieu’s impression of Sandrart’s Cupid pissing (1640), the wretch holding a urinal for Cupid has been described as both an old man and an old woman.


'Cupid Pissing' (1640); etching

‘Cupid Pissing’ (1640); etching


Often Cupid is depicted with Venus, his mythological mother, or another strong and beautiful woman. Sandrart’s intention seems to be ambiguous or subversive rather than erotic, although it may also have been an applied one, as the composition is reminiscent of models in an artist’s studio. The grid overlaid on the print suggests that it was copied and used as a primary source. The entry for the print in the Hollstein catalogue records three separate copies have been made after the print.[4]

These works of art provide insights into the discipline of art history and that of Sandrart’s working methods and his character. The Baillieu’s copy of the Teutsche Academie, its important chalk drawing and the overlaid print, all contribute to the construction of an intriguing portrait of Joachim von Sandrart.

Kerrianne Stone (Special Collections Curatorial Assistant (Prints))


[1] Baillieu Library Special Collections holds early editions of all three works: the 1550 first edition Vasari; a 1618 edition of van Mander; and the first edition of Sandrart’s Teutsche Academie (1675–79, four volumes bound in two)

[2] For more on Meurer’s prior research into Sandrart, see her article “‘In Verlegung de Autoris’: Joachim von Sandrart and the Seventeenth-Century Book Market” in The Library: The Transactions of the Bibliographical Society 7:4 (Dec. 2006): 419-449

[3] Special Collections does not hold a copy of the Volkmann edition of Sandrart’s Teutsche Academie. The printed portrait, however, is reproduced in Princeton University’s Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology blog post “The ‘German Vasari’?” (accessed 7 April 2014)

[4] F. W. H. Hollstein, German engravings, etchings, and woodcuts, ca. 1400-1700 (Amsterdam: M. Hertzberger, 1954-), 40:16

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Altering Shakespeare: An Interleaved Copy of Antony and Cleopatra

On 23 February 1855, the steamship Pacific docked in Melbourne harbour. Descending the gangway for his first tour of Australia was the Irish actor Gustavus Brooke, along with his wife Marianne, Brooke’s leading lady Fanny Cathcart, and his stage manager Richard W. Younge.

How Younge worked up a play for performance can been seen in his interleaved copy of Antony and Cleopatra, A Tragedy ([London?], ca. 1800), highlighted in this week’s post, along with some commentary on its provenance and use.


Half-title signed by R. W. Younge

Half-title inscribed by Richard Younge


The inscription shown above reads ‘R. W. Younge Theatre Royal Melbourne Feby 1856′. By ‘Theatre Royal’, Younge is most likely referring to Queen’s Theatre, also known as Queen’s Theatre Royal, where Brooke’s company opened with Othello to wide acclaim, and not the Theatre Royal owned by John Black. At the time of Younge’s February 1856 inscription, Black was in direct competition with the man responsible for Brooke’s Australian tour: the entrepreneurial actor-manager George Coppin, lessee of Queen’s Theatre and owner of the prefabricated Olympic. It was not until June 1856 that Coppin took over the Theatre Royal from his then insolvent rival, and so it is highly doubtful that Younge would have infringed upon his contractual obligations by being in the Theatre Royal before then.[1]

Potential confusion about the inscription aside, what makes this copy particularly interesting are Younge’s notes and textual edits.


Opening scene of play with annotations and notes.

Opening scene of play with annotations, notes, and a second inscription by Younge (p. [1])


Not a single page of printed text escaped his pen. Younge crossed out text, jotted down stage notes, cut entire scenes, changed characters, such as Demetrius and Philo being replaced by Enobarbus and Eros at the opening of Act 1, Scene 1 (see above image), and made numerous smaller alternations throughout the play in order to adapt the text to suit the production.


Younge's changes to Act 2, Scene 2, with a further inscription

Younge’s changes to Act 2, Scene 2, with a further inscription (p. 26)


Younge clearly made good use of the interleaving. His notes range from single lines to full pages of text, including many explanations and interpretation of phrases, definitions of words, musical accompaniment and stage directions, and even the occasional sketch of the set.


Sketch of set with stage notes.

Sketch of set with stage notes (p. 50)


Further stage notes (p. 51)

Further stage notes (p. 51)


Despite the amount of editing and annotation, no evidence could be found that Brooke and his company ever performed Antony and Cleopatra in Australia. Contemporary newspapers record the group performing scenes from Othello, Hamlet, Richard III, Macbeth, and Merchant of Venice. According to the Dictionary of the Australian Theatre, 1788-1914, Antony and Cleopatra was not performed at Melbourne’s Theatre Royal until 1867, six years after the actors returned to England.[2] 


Final page with notes.

Final pages (p. 141).


Perhaps Brooke and Younge found the existing repertoire sufficiently successful and did not feel the need to introduce scenes from another play.[3] Regardless of the reasons why Antony and Cleopatra was not used, this copy, with its copious notes and amendments, offers a fascinating study in nineteenth-century stage production and a fine connection with a booming Melbourne during Victoria’s early gold rush years.

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)


Antony and Cleopatra; A Tragedy by William Shakespeare; Accurately Printed from the Text of Mr Steeven’s Last Edition ([London?], ca. 1800); from the library of Dr John Chapman with his bookplate; purchased by the University of Melbourne from the Chapman sale, Melbourne, 24-25 February 2004 (lot 340)

[1] According to Brooke’s entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, when the juvenile lead Robert James Heir married Fanny Cathcart the pair left Brooke’s company for an engagement at Black’s Theatre Royal. They were brought back by a court injunction. See H. L. Oppenheim, ‘Brooke, Gustavus Vaughan (1818–1866)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/brooke-gustavus-vaughan-3064/text4519, published in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 26 March 2014.

[2] Eric Irvin, Dictionary of the Australian Theatre, 1788-1914 (Sydney: Hale & Iremonger, 1985), 28.

[3] Along with the inscription, the fact the play went unused suggests Younge bought the book in Melbourne where he had it interleaved and bound. His working up of the text for a potential addition of Antony and Cleopatra to an already full programme seems more probable after the company’s arrival in Australia than having such plans in place at the start of the tour and then dropping them.

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New Acquisition: L’Accusateur Public (French Counter-Revolutionary Journal)

Special Collections recently acquired a complete set of one of the most influential French counter-revolutionary journals: L’Accusateur public. Only a few issues are available on-line through Gallica (the digital library of the Bibliothèque nationale de France), and the only other recorded set in the country is held by the National Library of Australia, making the University of Melbourne copy a valuable resource for students and scholars, and a fine addition to our holdings of material on the French Revolution.


Page 1, first issue

First issue, p. 1


L’Accusateur public was founded by the Jean Thomas Élisabeth Richer-Sérisy (1759–1803) shortly after his release from prison on 27 September 1794. Printed in Paris by Mathieu Migneret, the journal ran for thirty-five numbered issues until 1797 and brought Richer-Sérisy considerable popularity as a public writer.[1]

Such notoriety of course did not go unnoticed by Revolutionary factions, nor did the fact that Richer-Sérisy’s energetic and vehement writing barely hid his Royalist opinions. His L’Accusateur public even outsold some of the pro-revolutionary periodicals, such as the Journal universal.[2] The year after The Directory seized power in the Coup of 18 Fructidor an V (4 September 1797), Richer-Sérisy was sentenced to deportation to Cayenne, French Guiana. He escaped and eventually made his way to England where he spent his remaining years. The last issue he edited (No. 35), dated 1 Frimaire an VII (21 November 1798), was seized by the police.


The revolutionary Constitutional Circle (also known as Club de Salm)

Cartoon of the pro-Directory ‘Constitutional Circle’ known as the Club de Salm


The acquisition also included the two unnumbered, counterfeit issues that appeared after No. 35.[3] The first is dated 6 Thermidor an VII (24 July 1799). Unlike the numbered series, Richer-Sérisy’s name is nowhere to be found, since he had already fled from France. According to Brunet’s Manuel du libraire … (Paris, 1860-1865 ed.), the issue was instead edited by the pro-royalist general Louis Michel Auguste Thévenet Danican (1764-1848).[4]

Perhaps without Richer-Sérisy’s name the issue failed to sell widely, for when a single issue of a second series appeared, possibly edited by Danican, it closed with a reprinted letter by Richer-Sérisy dated ‘Berlin, 10 Mai 1799′. Richer-Sérisy, however, upon reading or hearing about the issue, declared it a forgery.[5] Its editor(s) presumably used his name as an attempt to give the new series credibility and popular appeal.


'Richer-Serisy' letter, 10 May 1799

The supposed Richer-Serisy letter, 10 May 1799


A final point about the Melbourne copy not mentioned in the sale catalogue. On the recto of the first issue half-title is a rather worn ownership stamp, that of the Comte Joseph-François de Kergariou (1779-1849), bibliophile, prefect of Indre-et-Loire, and Napoleon’s chamberlain.

 Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)


[1] Although the final issue is numbered ’35′ there are actually thirty-four volumes in total. Issue No. 13, which was to contain an account of the battle between Revolutionary and Royalist forces in the streets of Paris on 13 Vendémiaire an IV (5 October 1795), was never published (perhaps not even Richer-Sérisy could spin the Royalist’s defeat). For more on its printer, Migneret, see Carla Hesse’s Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789-1810 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991) available on-line through the UC Press E-Books Collection (accessed 13.3.2014)

[2] Kenneth Margerison, ‘P.-L. Roederer: Political Thought and Practice During the French Revolution’ in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 1:1 (1983): 117

[3] The two unnumbered issues appear to be quite scarce. I was able to locate just three copies worldwide of the issue dated 6 Thermidor an VII and only two copies of the second series issue. No other copies are recorded in other Australian institutions.

[4] Charles Brunet, Manuel du libraire et de l’amateur de livres … 6 vols. (Paris: Firmin Didot frères, fils et Cie, 1860-1865), 6:1869-1870

[5] University of Pennsylvania Libraries catalogue: http://www.franklin.library.upenn.edu/record.html?id=FRANKLIN_13561 [No citation regarding the forgery comment given]

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Nullius in Verba: The Royal Society’s Two Earliest Books

Earlier this week the Royal Society announced the launch later this year of Royal Society Open Science, an open access peer-reviewed journal publishing scholarly research in all fields scientific and mathematical. The move is seen by the Society’s president, Sir Paul Nurse, as a necessary step to keep pace with the changing face of publishing in the twenty-first century.

Changes in the publishing field is something the Royal Society has seen a lot of throughout its long history. The august body received a Royal Charter to publish relevant works in 1662 (two years after its official founding in November 1660), and will observe the 350th anniversary of its journal Philosophical Transactions in March 2015.

With the recent open access announcement and next year’s anniversary of Philosophical Transactions in mind, this week’s post highlights the Royal Society’s two earliest books: John Evelyn’s Sylva and Robert Hooke’s Micrographia; first editions of each are held by Special Collections.[1]


First printed in 1664, Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber was the first work sponsored officially by the Royal Society and the first treatise in English dedicated entirely to forestry.[2] Its author, John Evelyn (1620–1706), writer, intellectual and founding member of the Royal Society, is perhaps best known for his long-running diary kept from 1640 to 1706.

Evelyn initially presented Sylva as a paper to the Royal Society in 1662. The published text sought to encourage tree-planting after the destruction wrought by the Civil War and, it has been argued, to ensure a supply of timber for England’s developing navy and add a further boost to the economy. Evelyn’s book proved highly popular with its intended audience, namely the gentry and aristocracy, who took from it the idea of gardening as an aesthetic pursuit, and his discourse was positively received on the Continent where it stimulated new methods of forest management.[3] Today Sylva is recognised as one of the most influential works on the subject of tree conservation.


First ed. title-page with the arms of the Royal Society.

First ed. title-page with the arms of the Royal Society


The first edition of Sylva contained two appendixes: Pomona: or, an Appendix Concerning Fruit-Trees in Relation to Cider, one of the earliest English essays on cider, and the Kalendarium Hortense: or, Gard’ners Almanac: Directing What He is To Do Monethly [sic] Throughout the Year, which was often reprinted separately and proved to be Evelyn’s most popular work.[4]


Title-page of Evelyn's 'Kalendarium Hortense'.

Title-page of Evelyn’s Kalendarium Hortense



The second text printed for the Royal Society was Robert Hooke’s groundbreaking Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses, published in 1665. Hooke (1635–1703), a natural philosopher and polymath, perfected the compound microscope and put the instrument to good use. His observations touched on a number of subjects, from combustion and diffraction of light, to fossils and artificial silk, and his description of the honeycomb-like structure of a cork gave us the word ‘cell’ to describe the basic biological unit of living organisms.

Micrographia is perhaps most widely known today for its illustrations. The book includes 57 microscopic and 3 telescopic observations, describing for the first time ‘a polyzoon, the minute markings of fish scales, the structure of the bee’s sting [and wings], the compound eyes of the fly, the gnat and its larvae, the structure of feathers, the flea and the louse’.[5] These enlarged images of such minute creatures (Hooke’s louse measures 45.7 cm in length) are as startling today as they must have been for Hooke’s contemporaries over 300 years ago.


Compound eye of the fly (Scheme 24)

Compound eye of the fly (Schema 24)


A flea (Schema 34)

A flea (Schema 34)


A louse (Schema 35)

A louse (Schema 35)


Like Sylva, Hooke’s Micrographia was an immediate success. It was read by Samuel Pepys, who mentioned the book three times in his diary for January 1664/5 and called it ‘the most ingenious book I have ever read in my life’ (Pepys was also a member of the Royal Society).[6] The text, particularly Hooke’s observations on light and the spectrum, was also studied by Isaac Newton who drew inspiration from it for his Opticks: or, a Treatise of the Reflexions, Refractions, Inflexions and Colours of Light (London, 1704).

 Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

[1] John Evelyn, Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber (London: Printed by Jo. Martyn and Ja. Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society, [1664]); purchased by the Friends of the Baillieu Library

Robert Hooke, Micrographia, or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries Thereupon (London: Printed by Jo. Martyn and Ja. Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society, [1665])

[2] Special Collections also holds copies of the 1670 second edition and 1679 third edition of Sylva, both of which were printed for the Royal Society

[3] http://royalsociety.org/events/2013/sustainability/ [Accessed 19.2.2014]

[4] Diana H. Hook and Jeremy Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, 2 vols. (San Francisco: Jeremy Norman & Co., Inc, 1991), i:271

[5] John Carter and Percy H. Muir, eds., Printing and the Mind of Man … (London: Cassell and Company Ltd., 1967 ed.), 88 (no. 147)

[6] Robert Latham and William Matthews, eds., The Diary of Samuel Pepys … 11 vols. (London: G. Bell and Sons Ltd, 1970-1976), vi:2, 17, 18

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The Steps to Piranesi

The Piazza di Spagna, the location of the Spanish Steps, led directly to Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s printmaking and antiquities studio in the Strada Felice. Traversing the Steps were the predominately English Grand Tourists who sought to purchase his monumental and evocative etchings as mementoes of their experiences of the eighteenth century continental education. The Steps were also where these tourists would meet their cicerone or Italian guide who would explain the array of incredible Roman ruins, baroque buildings, antiquities and works of art to be explored in the ancient city. These are some of figures that people Piranesi’s streets and monuments. The Arch of Titus, located just outside the Colosseum, was one of the chief destinations of the Tour. Tourists would also rely on guidebooks, which offered not only personal narratives and maps of the best trodden tracks, but also instructions on where to purchase the necessary printed souvenirs.


View of the arch of Titus (Veduta dell'Arco di Tito)

View of the Arch of Titus (Veduta dell’Arco di Tito)


Piranesi was creating his Vedute di Roma (The Views of Rome) throughout his lifetime and they were purchased as single sheets, and sometimes bound together by their collectors.  The series comprises two folios of the Baillieu’s first Paris edition of Piranesi’s works which was issued by his sons Francesco and Pietro in 1800-07. This set journeyed to Melbourne by way of its first Roman Catholic archbishop, James Alipius Goold. When he accepted an invitation to leave Rome for Australia, ‘it was on the steps of Santa Maria del Popolo, across from the two mirror churches that Piranesi depicted in his view of the Piazza del Popolo.’[1]


View of the Piazza di Spagna (Veduta di Piazza di Spagna)

View of the Piazza di Spagna (Veduta di Piazza di Spagna)


Upcoming Piranesi events in Melbourne:

  • Rome: Piranesi’s Vision‘ an exhibition showing in the Keith Murdoch Gallery at the State Library 22 Feb to June 22 2014
  • The Piranesi Effect‘ an exhibition showing at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne 20 Feb to 25 May 2014

Kerrianne Stone (Special Collections Curatorial Assistant (Prints))

[1]  Colin Holden, Piranesi’s Grandest Tour from Europe to Australia (Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2014), 161

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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: Woodcuts in the Italian and French Editions

First published by Aldus Manutius in 1499 and praised for its typographical design and early Renaissance woodcut illustrations, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili is one of the most famous books to come from a fifteenth-century press.

A second Aldine edition appeared in 1545, followed by the first French edition in 1546. Titled Hypnerotomachie, ou, Discours du Songe Poliphile, the translation was printed in Paris by Jacques Kerver. Its woodcuts in the Mannerist style were based on the Aldine editions, but adapted to suit French tastes and included an additional 14 illustrations.

The identity of the artists who executed the woodcuts in the Italian and French editions remains a subject of debate amongst academic circles. The designs in the 1499 edition have been associated with Benedetto Bordon, Andrea Mantegna, Gentile Bellini, and even a young Raphael.[1] The illustrations in the 1546 French edition exhibit evidence of more than one artist at work, with the painter Jean Cousin and the architect and sculptor Jean Goujon considered likely candidates for the best woodcuts.

Special Collections is fortunate to count the first Italian and French editions of the Hypnerotomachia amongst its holdings of early printed material, allowing for the following comparison of illustrations in two of the hand-press period’s most beautifully illustrated books.

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

[1] http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/23.73.1


Poliphilo enters a pathless forest (1499)

Poliphilo enters a pathless forest (1499)

Poliphilo enters a pathless forest (1546)

Poliphilo enters a pathless forest (1546)

Poliphilo encounters a wolf in his dreamscape (1499)

Poliphilo encounters a wolf in his dreamscape (1499)

Poliphilo encounters a wolf in his dreamscape (1546)

Poliphilo encounters a wolf in his dreamscape (1546)

The pyramid with obelisk (1499)

The pyramid with obelisk (1499)

The pyramid with obelisk (1546)

The pyramid with obelisk (1546)

Dancers carved on the base of a statue (1499)

Dancers carved on the base of a statue (1499)

Dancers carved on the base of a statue (1546)

Dancers carved on the base of a statue (1546)

Poliphilo flees from a dragon (1499)

Poliphilo flees from a dragon (1499)

Poliphilo flees from a dragon (1546)

Poliphilo flees from a dragon (1546)

Poliphilo meets Theude and her servants (1499)

Poliphilo meets Theude and her servants (1499)

Poliphilo meets Theude and her servants (1546)

Poliphilo meets Theude and her servants (1546)

From the second triumph (1499)

From the second triumph (1499)

From the second triumph (1546)

From the second triumph (1546)

The bridge over the frozen lake; where are the souls? (1499)

The bridge over the frozen lake; where are the souls? (1499)

The bridge over the frozen lake; complete with souls (1546)

The bridge over the frozen lake; complete with souls (1546)

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Bound for a Russian Princess

Towards the end of last year I highlighted a collection of Russian satirical journals and postcards from the 1905 Revolution. Today’s post continues the Russian theme by examining the provenance of an early twentieth-century set of the complete works of Tolstoy.


Frontispiece and title-page, Complete Works of Tolstoy (1913)


The set was published in St. Petersburg by P. V. Lukovnikov in 1913 and 1914. It consists of four volumes bound in two. The first two volumes are from the twenty-first edition and volumes three and four from the twenty-sixth and forty-sixth editions respectively. The attractive binding is three-quarter green morocco with marbled boards and pastedowns. In the upper-left corner of the front board on both volumes is a gilt-stamped ownership mark: the Cyrillic letters ‘Λ Β’ (‘L V’) with a crown above:


Binding with Vasilchikova stamp


Through a colleague of the antiquarian book dealer Simon Beattie, the ownership stamp has been identified as belonging to Princess Lydia Leonidovna Vyazemsky Vasilchikova (1886–1948). The set is from Vasilchikova’s private library in St. Petersburg and was likely bound by A. A. Schnell, a master bookbinder working for the Russian Imperial Court.


Portrait of Princess Lydia Leonidovna Vyazemsky Vasilchikova

Portrait of Princess Lydia Leonidovna Vyazemsky Vasilchikova  www.genealogics.org)


The Family

Lydia’s father was Prince Leonid Dmitrievitch Vyazemsky (1848–1909), a general in the Russian cavalry, Governor of Astrakhan, and member of the Council of the Empire. On 12 May 1909, Lydia married Prince Illarion Sergeyevich Vasilchikov (1881–1969), who belonged to one of Russia’s oldest aristocratic families and served as a member of the Fourth Duma under Tsar Nicholas II.

Lydia, however, was not a stereotypical staid wife of a politician. According to Beattie’s contact, she studied English at Oxford, was fluent in several European languages, and was fond of horse riding and photography. She served as a Red Cross nurse close to the Eastern Front during the First World War, and was awarded four medals, including two St George medals for bravery.

In 1919, the Vasilchikovs fled the upheaval and violence of the 1917 Revolution aboard the SS Princess Ena, sent to Russia by Britain’s George V to rescue his aunt the Empress Marie Feodorovna. Destitute, the Vasilchikovs travelled across Europe as refugees to the family’s Lithuanian estates. During the Second World War, two of their children, Tatiana and Marie, moved to Berlin in 1940 to find work and were employed by the Foreign Ministry’s Information Office. The sisters later published books about their experiences: Tatiana: Five Passports in a Shifting Europe (1976) and Marie’s Berlin Diaries: 1940–1945 (1988).


The Library

Unfortunately, little information exists regarding the Vasilchikov family libraries, except that they owned several collections in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and throughout their numerous estates. It was learnt through Beattie’s contact that many family members were killed after the 1917 Revolution, and their books sold or intentionally destroyed during the 1920s and 1930s; a sad fate that befell many of Russia’s aristocratic families and their collections during those turbulent early decades of the Soviet Union.

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

Polnoe sobranīe sochinenīĭ gr. A.K. Tolstogo (St. Petersburg: [P. V. Lukovnikov], 1913-1914); from the personal library of Princess Lydia Leonidovna Vyazemsky Vasilchikova; donated to the Melbourne University Library by Mrs. O. P. Hohlov in 1968.

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Революция! Russian Satirical Journals from the 1905 Revolution

In 1977 the University of Melbourne Library acquired a large collection of Russian material from a private collector.[1] Included among the boxes of books, pamphlets and serials was a collection of satirical journals consisting of 53 titles in 149 issues dating to the first Russian Revolution (1905–1907).


Voron (The Raven), no. 1, [1905?]


The revolution was sparked on 22 January [9 January Old Style] 1905, when members of the Russian military and paramilitary opened fire on crowds of people gathering throughout St Petersburg and converging on the Winter Palace to petition Tsar Nicholas II for better working conditions and civil rights. Hundreds of men, women and children were killed or wounded. The brutal action led to national strikes, peasant uprisings, and attacks on figures of authority by revolutionaries and anarchists.

In an attempt to stem the upheaval, the tsar enacted a series of political and social reforms in the October Manifesto (1905), which led to the creation of the Duma and included a loosening of restrictions on the press and freedom of expression. By late November/ early December many revolutionary satirical journals began to appear on the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and eventually in other major cities across the empire.[2]


Vampir (The Vampire), no. 2, 1906


These journals, with such evocative titles as Adskaia pochta (Hellish Post), Bich (The Scourge), Krasnyi smekh (Red Laughter), Pulemet (The Machine Gun), Sekira (The Pole-Axe), and Zabiaka (The Trouble-maker), are filled with prose, verse, and illustrations and cartoons, either lampooning the tsar and his ministers, or offering a sometimes visceral commentary on the repressive and brutal tactics of the imperial government. Many journals were collaborative efforts that brought together some of Russia’s best writers and artists of the time, such as Leonid Andreev, Leon Bakst, Alexander Benois, Ivan Bilibin, Ivan Bunin, Korney Chukovsky, Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, Maksim Gorky, Boris Kustodiev, Yevgeny Lansere, and Leonid Pasternak.


Pulemet (The Machine Gun), no. 1, [13 November] 1905


Most of these periodicals had very short runs. Some of them appeared in only one issue before the authorities intervened to prevent further publication. Various editors attempted to circumvent the censors by changing a publication’s title. Burelom (Storm-Wood), for example, was shutdown in 1905 after four issues, but resurfaced as Burya (The Storm) early the following year. Burya reached a fourth issue, too, before being closed. It was later resurrected as the aptly titled Bureval (Storm Debris).[3]

Burelom (Storm-Wood), Christmas issue, 25 December 1905


In addition to journals, propagandist postcards were also produced. Some of the 39 examples in the collection were printed by chromolithography. Others were hand drawn and then reproduced either by hand or mimeographed in outline and then hand-coloured.


Russian Satirical Postcards, 1905 Revolution, nos. 29-34


According to Tobie Mathew, who has been collecting and researching these cards for a number of years:

‘Leftist postcards were published by both revolutionary activists and legally registered publishers, many of whom were motivated as much by commerce as they were ideology. Some were used and displayed with subversive aims in mind, but most were bought for private consumption; these were objects that in reflecting political beliefs also served to amuse and divert’.

Regarding their rarity, Mathew commented that such cards:

‘Don’t come onto the market very often … The postcards were avidly collected at the time but being more ephemeral objects they are far less likely to have survived the various upheavals’.

Collections of Russian satirical journals are found in institutions across the northern hemisphere. Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator), however, suspects that the journals (and especially the postcards) held by Special Collections is the only one of its kind in Australia, making it a unique resource ripe for research by local and regional scholars and students.

Readers can view the often striking (and sometimes lurid) journal cover illustrations and postcards on the Special Collections Flickr page:


[Sincere thanks to Simon Beattie and Tobie Mathew for offering their expertise so freely]

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)


[1] See Leena Siegelbaum’s ‘The O’Flaherty Collection’ published in Australian Academic and Research Libraries (Sept. 1980): 189–194.

[2] The first journal was Zritel (Spectator), which appeared in June 1905. The University of Southern California’s ‘Russian Satirical Journals’ website notes journals were published in Armenian, Estonian, Georgian, Polish, Ukrainian and Yiddish.

[3] David King and Cathy Porter. Blood & Laughter: Caricatures from the 1905 Revolution (London: Jonathan Cape, 1983), 42.

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Covered in Silk & Satin: Embroidered Bookbindings

Among the decorative and fine bindings held by Special Collections are two examples of fabric/ textile bindings with embroidered decorations.

Embroidered book covers were popular during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, though earlier examples, such as the fourteenth-century embroidered binding on the British Library’s Felbrigge Psalter (Sloane MS 2400), do survive.

Textile bindings were produced primarily by professional embroiderers, but were also made by individual female owners. They were very much in vogue in England during the first half of the seventeenth century, particularly as covers for small devotional books, such as this copy of The Book of Common Prayer (London, 1629) that measures just eleven centimetres in height. The cover is made of white satin over blue silk, with birds and flowers embroidered with different coloured silk set within frames of gold thread, with gold thread borders on the spine and both sides.

Along with silk and satin, velvet was another popular textile for book covers. The Special Collections copy of L’Office de la Vierge Marie pour tous les temps de l’anee (Paris, [1636?]), bound with Pierre Coton’s Dévotes oraisons pour tous chrestiens et catholiques (Paris, 1637), is in a contemporary green velvet binding, heavily embroidered with floral motifs in silver thread and sequins, bordered on three sides by silver wire.


Much has been written on embroidered bindings. The British Library’s English Embroidered Bookbindings webpage provides a brief history of the subject and includes a select bibliography for further reading. One of the texts listed, Cyril Davenport’s English Embroidered Bookbindings (London, 1899), can be read on-line.

In addition to the resources noted by the BL, one can add the relevant sections in Bernard Middleton’s A History of English Craft Bookbinding Techniques (London, 1978; pp. 121–124), David Pearson’s English Bookbinding Styles, 1450–1800 (New Castle [DE], 2004; pp. 20–22), and Marianne Tidcombe’s Women Bookbinders, 1880–1920 (New Castle [DE], 1996; pp. 77–90).

Embroidered bindings can also be found throughout social media. They have been blogged about elsewhere (e.g. The Collation, Echoes from the Vault); there are pages in Pinterest (page 1 and page 2) and on Flickr (University of Glasgow Library); and one binding has even made its way onto YouTube compliments of the Bridwell Library, Southern Methodist University.

Further examples can be seen on the Princeton University Hand Bookbinding website, and over 120 specimens can be found in the British Library’s Database of Bookbindings.

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

The Booke of Common Prayer (London: Imprinted by Bonham Norton and John Bill, 1629), bound with The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London: Imprinted [by Felix Kingston] for the Company of Stationers, 1630)

L’Office de la Vierge Marie pour tous les temps de l’anee (Paris: Robert Denain, [1636?]), bound with Pierre Coton’s Dévotes oraisons pour tous chrestiens et catholiques (Paris: Marin Vaugon, 1637)

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Pacific Voyages: A Book That Sailed with Cook

Among the volumes held by Special Collections concerning British exploration of the Pacific, the book with the greatest link to the subject has nothing at all to do with it at least in terms of its topic. It is a medical text called An Introduction to Physiology (London, 1759), a compilation of lectures for students by the Scottish physiologist and instructor Malcolm Flemyng (ca. 1700–1764).

The book’s importance as an object relative to Pacific exploration is evident in a contemporary note written on the front pastedown:

‘This Book went round the World in the Endeavour in 1768 /69 /70 & /71 ~’


The note is in the hand of William Perry, who carried the book with him when he signed on as surgeon’s mate aboard HMB Endeavour for the first of Capt. James Cook’s three Pacific voyages. Perry was later appointed to the position of surgeon upon the death of William Brougham Monkhouse on 5 November 1770, and is recorded in Cook’s journal for 7 November as being ‘equally well if not better skilled in his profession’.[1]

Title-page with Perry’s ownership inscription.

Flemyng’s Physiology would have served Perry well in dealing with the array of illnesses and injuries that befell the crew. Needing to access information quickly, Perry’s marginal notes amount to a running index of the first 179-pages, with the occasional commentary thereafter elucidating certain concepts and citing works that by the late 1760s had superseded aspects of Flemyng’s text. One such annotation includes an anatomical rendering of the human eye:

Page annotated by Perry with drawing of the human eye.

Books would not have been an uncommon sight on the Endeavour. Cook had his atlases and travel narratives; Joseph Banks’s library is well attested; and some officers or literate crewmen surely had personal bibles or prayer books.[2]

While much is known about some of the titles consulted by Cook and the accompanying gentlemen scientists who sailed with the Endeavour, actual physical copies that have survived are extremely scarce. According to Matthew Fishburn of Hordern House, this scarcity is likely due to ‘hard usage, and the fact that with the probable exception of some of the grander atlases/ maps and natural history books, many of the books on board would have been quite utilitarian. It is little more than chance survival’.

‘Exceptionally scarce’ and ‘chance survival’ are apt phrases. Fishburn continued by noting that Perry’s copy of Flemyng’s Physiology is the only book from the Endeavour voyage ever sold by Hordern House in its twenty-eight year history. In fact, with the exception of John Hawkesworth’s account of the first voyage carried by Cook from Cape Town to St. Helena during the second voyage (1772–1775), the firm knows of no other books surviving from any of Cook’s voyages that have come onto the market.[3]

Such scarcity, when coupled with the book’s direct association with one of the most famed voyages of the eighteenth century, makes this copy of Flemyng’s Physiology one of the most important and treasured items held by Special Collections.

What became of Perry?

According to W. E. Snell’s article ‘Captain Cook’s Surgeons’, Perry served as surgeon aboard four other ships before retiring in 1782 to his native Chiswick, where it is presumed he continued to practice medicine.[4] He enjoyed a long life, dying in Hillingdon, Middlesex, at the age of 80 on 25 April 1827.

Perry’s copy of Flemyng’s Physiology was purchased by Special Collections from Hordern House in 2005 with funds from the Library Endowment Trust. It was previously in the collection of the American collector David Parsons.[5]

Anthony Tedeschi (Deputy Curator, Special Collections)

[1] J. C. Beaglehole (ed.). The Journals of Captain James Cook on His Voyage of Discovery, 4 vols. in 5 (Cambridge: Published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press, 1955–1974), 1:437.

[2] For more about some of the titles consulted by Cook, Banks and the artist Sydney Parkinson, see D. J. Carr’s ‘The Books That Sailed with the Endeavour’. Endeavour, new series, 7:4 (1983): 194–201. Perry’s copy of Flemyng’s Physiology was unknown to Carr and therefore went unaccounted. Banks’s books that travelled with him were incorporated into his personal library upon his return to England, and are held by the British Library.

[3] The Parsons Collection: Rare Pacific Voyage Books from the Collection of David Parsons; Part I: Dampier to Cook. (Sydney: Hordern House, 2005), no. 86.

[4] W. E. Snell. ‘Captain Cook’s Surgeons’. Medical History 7:1 (January 1963): 46–47.

[5] For more on the formation of Parsons’ collection, see his article ‘The Pleasures of Collecting Books on Cook and Pacific Exploration’, published in Cook’s Log 30:2 (2007): 7–9.

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