‘Appeals to a Child’s Imagination’

Exhibit: ‘Appeals to a Child’s Imagination’: The Morgan Collection of Children’s Books, Special Collections, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne, ground floor, Baillieu Library, until Wednesday 1 February 2012

A display highlighting the Morgan Collection of Children’s Books from the Library’s Special Collections is now showing on the ground floor of the Baillieu Library. This collection is based upon a generous donation to the Library in 1954 by the British antiquarian Frederick Charles (F.C.) Morgan (1878-1978). As a result of his generosity, the University acquired one of Australia’s foremost collections of children’s books and a significant collection in world terms. Since then, the collection has been actively enlarged and today it consists of approximately 4,000 items, four times the size of its original 1,086 volumes in 1954.

One of the many highlights of the Morgan Collection is its wealth of lavishly-illustrated books. The present display celebrates the colour illustrations by the prominent 19th-century children’s book illustrators Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway. The collection contains not only books, but also various toys and games enjoyed by children of the Victorian era, including a mid-19th-century cube block puzzle, a portable folding globe, c.1866, paper doll story books and a child’s magic set. Through its rich array of items, the Morgan Collection offers staff, students and the wider community the opportunity to engage with the social milieu of a past age through treasured childhood stories and playthings, some of which are still familiar today.

Above: Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), ‘Hey diddle-diddle and Baby Bunting’, London: Routledge, 1882, gift of F.C. Morgan, 1954, Special Collections, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne.

Building Rural Success

Exhibition: Building Rural Success: The early years of Dookie Agricultural College, Leigh Scott Gallery, first floor, Baillieu Library, until Saturday 11 February 2012

This exhibition commemorates the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Dookie Agriculture College, today known as the Dookie Campus of the Melbourne School of Land and Environment at the University of Melbourne. Through a rich array of historical material, including an illuminated address, early farm diaries, stock registers, sporting medals and many photographs, the display celebrates the culture and history of Dookie, its personalities and its role as an educational facility and operational farm. The exhibition explores the broader historical contexts and social histories of the period, such as the impacts of the first and second world wars and the Soldier Settlement Scheme, the changing role of women, Dookie’s sporting prowess and its identity within the regional community.

The experiences of those who lived and studied at Dookie dominate the collection’s subject matter. The items displayed in this exhibition provide an insight into what everyday life was like for the students, staff and families who called Dookie Agricultural College home. Today the site also plays host to the Dookie Campus Historical Collection, which traces the development of agricultural industry, education, farming methods and land use at Dookie since its early days.

Above: ‘Breaking up virgin country for the first sowing of a new wheat’, Photograph by H.D. Simpson, published in ‘Dookie Collegian’, 1918, p. 2. Dookie Campus Historical Collection, University of Melbourne.

A Fine Press

The University of Melbourne Library’s Special Collections holds some wonderful collections of private presses known for their fine printing. The Library began collecting titles from the Kelmscott Press in the 1970s, largely with help from the Friends of the Baillieu Library. The Kelmscott was founded in 1891 by William Morris, the English textile designer artist, writer and socialist associated with the English Arts and Crafts Movement, and by the time the Press closed in 1898, it had produced 53 titles. The complete collection of Kelmscott works was finally attained by the Library in 2005 when, with the help of the Library Endowment Fund as well as contributions from the Ivy May Pendlebury Bequest, the final work, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, considered one of the Press’s finest, was acquired.

Above: Illustration for ‘The knyghtes tale’ by Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898) with decorative borders and initial letters by William Morris (1834–1896). From Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted’, Hammersmith: Printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, 8 May 1896. From an edition of 425 copies. Purchased by the University of Melbourne with contributions from the Library Endowment Fund, the Ivy May Pendlebury Estate and the Friends of the Baillieu Library, 2005.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts

The University of Melbourne Library holds almost 200 Middle Eastern manuscripts, dating from the 12th to the 20th century. Languages  include Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Prakrit, Mongol, Sanskrit, Malmud, Ethiopic and Syriac. The collection is just one of a number of collections built up by the Reverend Professor John Bowman between 1959 and 1975 during his time as head of the Department of Semitic Studies at the University of Melbourne.

MUL 134, illustrated above, tells the love story of Kamrup and Kamlata in Persian poetical form, although it was produced in Northern India in about 1737. Its miniature illustrations are in gouache, gold and silver leaf. The script is in black ink with some red, ruled borders with decoration of silver, red and blue.

One of the exciting projects of the University’s Digitisation Service is to digitise this beautiful collection and to date half of the manuscripts have been digitised and are available at http://dtl.unimelb.edu.au/R/?func=collections-result&collection_id=5363

See also www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/collections/special/collections/rarebooks/memss.html

Rare Maps

The Rare and Historic Map Collection comprises 15,000 culturally significant maps, mostly covering Melbourne, Victoria and Australia, and is located within the University’s collection of 100,000 printed maps and aerial photos. Around 500 of the historic maps can be viewed online via the Collections website: www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/collections/maps/map-historical.html.

Top: ‘Tourist map of Geelong and District’, Melbourne: Department of Lands and Survey, W.J. Butson, 1924, University of Melbourne Library Map Collection. Other tourist maps made around this time were for places such as Ballarat, Dandenong Ranges and Buchan Caves.

Bottom: Martin Waldseemüller (1470-1521?) (after Ptolemy), ‘Tabvla Nova Asia Minoris’, Strasbourg: Published by Johann Schott, 1513, 34 x 47 cm, Walker Collection, University of Melbourne Library Map Collection. A hand-coloured map of Asia Minor using woodcut printing.

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