State Library of South Australia

Treasures on show

Over its 82 years' history, the Friends of the State Library has donated many treasures to the State Library's collections.

Some of these beautiful and fascinating objects were shown to a small group of Friends at a morning gathering in July.

Valmai Hankel and Anthony Laube with State Library treasures
Valmai Hankel and Anthony Laube with State Library treasures

Former Rare Books Librarian and Immediate Past President of the Friends, Valmai Hankel, with Anthony Laube, Content Services Librarian, brought the white gloves to the Circulating Library and showed off some of the Library's treasures.

They included:

  • the 'glorious' Antiphonal (late 13th century), bought by the Friends in 1945 for 77.10 and now almost priceless.
  • a leaf from The Knight's Tale in The Canterbury Tales, printed by William Caxton in 1476, showing Caxton's unicorn watermark.
  • the Nicolaus Jenson edition (1472) of Pliny the Elder's Natural History, with large initials in blue or red, and with guide letters.
  • Banks' Florilegium of Captain Cook's first voyage to Australia (1768-71), published from 1981 to 1988, its purchase supported by public subscription, including a donation from the Friends.
  • the manuscript of James Bell's Private journal of a voyage to Australia 1838-39, which has since been published (2011) by Allen & Unwin.
  • a children's book by Wakefield's grandmother
  • the letter written in 1836 by William Light to George Jones, containing his sketch of the proposed canal route between Port Adelaide and Adelaide.

Those who attended found it a fascinating presentation and were thrilled to be able to look so closely at these rarely seen treasures, as well as to hear the stories behind their creation and purchase. The Friends look forward to future, similar showings of the Library's treasures, which it and former Friends have donated.

Story by: Friends of the SLSA

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