Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Portland Bay Settlement: Being the history of Portland, Victoria from 1800 to 1851 by Noel F. Learmonth.

The Portland Bay Settlement: Being the history of Portland, Victoria from1800 to 1851 by Noel F. Learmonth. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by The Historical Committee of Portland 1934, 285 pages with a few black and white photographs, illustrations and maps.

FOREWORD: Turning over old records yields many pleasing thoughts and arouses many gratifying memories. The placing of such records in an imperishable form where they can be referred to at any time and a renewed enjoyment experienced is one of the most praiseworthy of human efforts. It, in fact, savours strongly of that ancestor worship which distinguishes us from the dumb beast and has uplifted the whole human race. Within these pages Mr. Learmonth has gathered together such an amazing array of facts and figures relating to those pioneers who built up the south-western part of Victoria, so long fondly known as Portland Bay, that one stands amazed at his tirelessness and industry. The happenings of those early days, rough as were the conditions and meagre as were the rewards, are placed before us in an admirably interesting and attractive way, causing the hardships to be forgotten and the brighter side only of the lives of our fore-runners to be realised. 

1934, the year that this book was published, is not really that long after the history that the book is about, took place. 83 years is all it took for all of the ingredients to be gathered, pickled, brewed and bottled. It then took another 81 long years for this book seller to find it (...not that I was particularly looking for it for the 81 years...and it was more like a 'stumble upon it' than a 'find it'...and NO, i'm not that old...) and fully appreciate it's historic and $$$ value.

Often when unearthing this sort of vintage local history, you/I need to consider how accurate is the history by todays standards of diligent research and processes. If it's complete rubbish and obviously someone's historical fantasy, then no one will be interested... especially rare book buyers 81 years after the initial bottling. According to my sources of people who know about these sort of things, this title has stood up nicely over time, and is still looked upon as being a good source of information about the area concerned. It was reprinted in the 1980s which I think is a good indicator that the book has held it's interest and relevance, but apparently the reprint is slightly lacking in quality re the reproduction of photos*, hence the $$$ value of this earlier edition.

*I haven't seen the reproduction so this comment is based upon rumour and innuendo...

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