Recent Acquisitions by Cultural Collections

Three exciting works that have been recently purchased from Light Bequest Funds are an Australian fairy tale, a rare manuscript, and a book of engravings.

Harold Gaze – The Billibonga Bird. Melbourne : Whitcombe & Tombs, [1919]

This work augments our collection of Australian fairy tales, which is developing into a significant body. Harold Gaze was previously unrepresented in our collection, and his illustrations are more notably Australian, than most other early illustrators.

Harold Gaze was born in New Zealand in 1885. He studied art in London, and came to Australia after World War I. In 1927 he moved to America where he remained until his death in 1962. His Australian period was therefore not the major part of his work, yet his children’s illustrations and stories written here took on a whole local identity.

Title Page of Manuscript by Thomas Whitley

Thomas Whitley – 1855-1857 Some random reminiscences Lower Hunter River New South Wales : personal topographical poetical and other additions of various date. Blackheath, NSW 1908

This original manuscript of people and places of the region is inscribed to George Robertson, the publisher and promoter of many Australian colonial writers. It includes a transcription of “The Convict’s Tour of Hell”, a poem describing the brutality of the convict system in Newcastle in the 1820s. The poem is by “Frank the Poet”, later identified as Francis McNamara, who was himself on the iron gang.

Thomas Whitley is an elusive figure. He was born around 1830 and died at the end of 1911 at the age of 81. He lived in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, as did George Robertson, and, according to Hordern booksellers, was an antiquarian. His other works include manuscripts on Blue Mountains history, and an article published in the Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society entitled “The reputed passage of the Blue Mountains in 1798 and incidents connected with the story.”

New Bridge, West Maitland, 1853

Frederick Charles Terry – Landscape scenery, illustrating Sydney, Paramatta [sic], Richmond, Maitland, Windsor, and Port Jackson, New South Wales. Sydney : Sands & Kenny, 1855

This is a beautifully bound first edition containing engravings of Frederick C. Terry’s sketches and watercolours of scenes from areas in and around Sydney and in Newcastle and Maitland. The volume is particularly important to us in that it contains some splendid engravings of local scenes as they were in 1855, including views of East and West Maitland and of Nobbys Head in Newcastle.

Frederick Charles Terry was born in England in 1825, was educated in Switzerland and arrived in Australia in the early 1850’s where he soon gained a reputation as a fine watercolour artist and engraver. He was a prolific artist, recognised as one of the best colonial painters by 1860. His paintings or engravings appeared in a variety of works, ranging from paintings, to engravings in books, to covers of musical albums such as The Australian Musical Album of 1863. Despite his fame and productivity, Terry did not earn a great deal of money, and when he died in 1869 of “effusion of the brain”, he was in debt, and all of his property went to a creditor.

Marion Wilson & Lyn Keily

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