Monday, August 29, 2016

Gold at Gaffneys Creek by Brian Lloyd and Howard Combes.

Gold at Gaffneys Creek by Brian Lloyd and Howard Combes. Hardcover book published by Shoestring Bookshop 1981, 267 pages with black and white maps, illustrations and photographs.

The early goldseekers of Gaffneys Creek were tough, resolute and adventurous people typical of Victoria’s gold generation. This book is about the exploration, exploitation and settlement of that remote, inhospitable, but beautiful and rich corner of Victoria. The Gaffneys Creek goldfield was opened up by men who came across from the Buckland to the Big River in 1857, and climbed over the Mt Terrible range to the Goulburn watershed in 1859. There followed a few lawless years of rich alluvial mining before the reefers got to work, and permanent and law-abiding settlement followed. The wild speculative quartz mining boom of Gaffneys Creek and Woods Point in the 1860s was followed by decades of depression, with most of the mines closed or on tribute. The only miners to prosper were the tributers at the A.1, and even there they had to endure many years of barely subsistence earnings from the fickle reefs. The mining revival about the turn of the century saw some years of prosperity at the Dempseys and Rose of Denmark, but by World War I only the A.1. was left as a profitable mine. After the gold cut out there in the mid-twenties, more years of depression followed, until the Victory Reef was discovered in the early years of World War II. The 1940s were rich in gold and dividends for the A.1. but then, with rising costs and the price of gold fixed, the mine struggled on against mounting odds, until it finally closed in 1976.”

Gaffneys Creek? Another place of which my geographical knowledge was severely lacking in. Thanks to the interwebs, I now have a rough idea of where it is (between Matlock and Jamieson... and not close to here) and i'm fairly certain i've never been there... which is probably why I couldn't picture it's location. Besides being a local history book, this is also a book about Gold mining and the Gold Rush(s) that Victoria experienced over the years. With a few exceptions, the description above could easily be one of many towns in Victoria... including Clunes*. The dates are close to Clunes's, although mining stopped here earlier than Gaffneys Creek and it's that gold price mentioned in the blurb above that has historically hindered any further mining here in Clunes**.

Gold and Victorian local history are a good combination when it comes to books and the more obscure the book, the more desirable a publication becomes. I have another book by Brian Lloyd at the moment entitled “Gold at Harrietville”. It seems that Brian wrote a few books about mining towns in hard to get too places in Victoria as well as some other local histories, and as with the Gaffney's Creek book, the Harrietville book is also worth a few $$$. I was talking to a local history writer/customer/friend recently and mentioned these books. He knew them (… he owns them) and informed me that the author had passed away in the last few years and that it was doubtful that these books will ever be reprinted. I'm not sure how true that is, but it is possible that there will be no further copies published making these books just that little bit rarer.

So why are Victorian Gold rush histories so desirable? Apparently if your family were here in Australia pre WWI, there is a good chance that you have some connection to the gold fields. A lot of people rushed for gold and a lot of them stayed here (Australia) when the gold (or the price of gold) ran out. Family historians are always on the look out for local histories and gold is a good place to start. I have family members (my sister in law) who's family came out from Cornwall for the gold rush. Quite by chance the first place that we know they went to in Australia, was Clunes.... and yes they are listed in the town records. There is now a bit more of an interest in my place of abode within my family and i'm sure a good local history would be appreciated due to the connection.

And of course we have Gold people. Any clues or hints are eagerly sought after by weekender detectors seeking those special spots where perchance there might be that lump of gold that everyone over the last 150 years has missed. There are those little clues on obscure and less visited historical mining activity that these diggers seek and what better place than a now out of print local history on a gold mining area.

* International headquarters of Huc & Gabet: Books of interest.

** There's often been talk about new mining projects which seem to never eventuate.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Great Plague in London by Walter George Bell. Folio Society.

The Great Plague in London by Walter George Bell. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) with decorative boards with slipcase published by The Folio Society 2001, 256 pages with some black and white and colour illustrations and a few colour photographs.

The great Plague of 1665 was a last and terrible visitation before bubonic plague finally burned itself out. A direct descendant of the Black Death, it killed more than 100,000 people in London alone. Its horrors have been etched on our minds by the writings of Daniel Defoe and Samuel Pepys, yet many citizens displayed great courage and compassion. London’s Lord Mayor, Sir John Lawrence, remained at his post when almost all who could afford to had fled the city; Dr Nathaniel Hodges tended patients throughout the epidemic – never himself catching the plague. Walter Bell’s astonishingly detailed account has never been equalled. This re-edited edition of his book allows his scholarship and imaginative sympathy to shine through for a new generation of readers. Edited and introduced by Belinda Hollyer.

“The Folio Society is a privately owned London-based publisher, founded by Charles Ede in 1947 and incorporated in 1971. It produces illustrated hardback editions of classic fiction and non-fiction books, poetry and children's titles. Folio editions feature specially designed bindings and include artist-commissioned illustrations (most often in fiction titles) or researched artworks and photographs (in non-fiction titles). Many editions come with their own slipcase.” Wikipedia

A while ago I wrote about the hit and miss world (nothing to do with “Miss World” or Donald Trump) of selling Folio Society books on line (click here if you want to read what I wrote), so it might seem a bit strange that after all writing what I wrote then, that i'm now expanding my Folio Society listings on ebay. The truth is that I couldn't control my buying urges when confronted with 50 odd Folio Society titles in mostly great condition. Yep, I talked myself into it and so far i've have enough sales for it to have been worth my while. I think it has something to do with quantity of titles of these beautiful tomes as i've had more than one person buy multiple items. Maybe that has been my problem in the past as most Folio books are quite heavy and therefore postage is a bit of a bummer. With the intention of posting these heavy books in an Australia Posts 3kg satchel, I have been aggressively offering combined postage on this titles. “Aggressively” means that there's a larger bold message with the items listed indicating that I offer:

Maximum of $10 for postage on multiple items within Australia. 

This is no different to what I normally offer except that the message is a little more in your face on these ebay Folio Society listings. Maybe I need to change the way I offer this deal on postage.

… and the reason I singled out “The Great Plague in London” by Walter George Bell is that it's got a nice cover... as they all do.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel by Haruki Murakami. (First US edition.)

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel by Haruki Murakami, translated by Alfred Birnbaum. Hardcover book published by Kodansha International 1991 First U.S. Edition, 401 pages with some black and white decorative illustrations.

Quite a while ago, I stumbled upon a UK edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude and at the time I was shocked and amazed to have stumbled upon something as special as a first edition of this incredible book. Here we are a few years later and i've got another incredible find that, quite honestly, left me speechless.

There's something incredibly nice about finding a book that you can feel proud to have found and then have for sale... even though in this instance I didn't find it. A good friend of mine walked up to me at a book sale and handed over this book, my jaw dropped (and still remains dropped) and I was speechless. I don't think I even properly thanked him at the time... but have done so since then.

Haruki Murakami is one of those writers that booksellers love to find. The reason is quite simply that whether new or secondhand, paperback or hardback, first edition or not, he sells. I have read a number of his books over the years and have like most people that have delved, become entranced and despite being a book seller (that is, someone who sells books as apposed to someone who keeps them) still own a number of them. Who can forget the Wild Sheep Chase and the whole sheep thing... and the ear thing... I can't. I've got a number of his newer books sitting in my 'to be read' stack and as i'm writing this blog entry i'm working myself into a Murakami reading frenzy to the point that... I will start reading the mammoth and intimidating 1Q84 in the next few days... I will do it.

So, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, do I think it will sell? It will take the right person (other than myself) to appreciate what this book is. I'm assuming it will be a collector and a fan, and based on my knowledge of how big this guy is, it will sell.