Melbourne Rare Book Fair returns this weekend

MRBF Joan Miró & Paul Eluard À Toute ÉpreuveBringing a treasure trove of books, maps, prints, photographs and posters, the Melbourne Rare Book Fair (MRBF) returns to Wilson Hall at the University of Melbourne this weekend (12 – 14 July 2019).

“The Melbourne Rare Book Fair is a showcase for the world of book collecting,” said MRBF director Peter Arnold, “attracting leading dealers from across Australia and overseas.”

The biggest book fair in the southern hemisphere, the Melbourne Rare Book Fair is free of charge and open to everyone, offers more than 10,000 items ranging in price from $20 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a must-attend weekend event for book lovers from all walks of life.

Some of the notable items on offer include: The 1647 original edition of the first book about Australia, Captain Pelsaert’s account of the wreck of the Batavia off the coast of Western Australia in 1629 – and the savage aftermath of mutiny, massacre, rape and the eventual hanging of the ringleaders; and The Works of Aristotle, 1801 – which is actually a frank sex manual, with a title intended to mislead prying or juvenile eyes.

An art nouveau poster by Arthur Streeton from 1896, which served as a ticket in a lottery run by his friends to raise money to send him to England for the first time – the prizes were Streeton paintings; a portrait of Napoleon sketched from life on St Helena by a traveller on the way to New South Wales; and a Tapa cloth collected in the Pacific Islands by Captain Cook during the Endeavour voyage in 1770.

Also on offer is a rare football publication from 1878 – one of the earliest on Aussie Rules with some interesting rule differences; À Toute Épreuve by Joan Miro – a unique copy of a monument of twentieth-century book illustration, and the high watermark of Miró’s career as a book-illustrator; a group of superb hand-coloured plates from Shaw’s Zoology of New Holland, 1794 – the first book on the zoology of Australia; and a selection of surfing photos from the sixties.

The 2019 Melbourne Rare Book Fair takes place this weekend: 12 – 14 July at Wilson Hall – The University of Melbourne. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Joan Mori, À Toute Épreuve by Paul Eluard – courtesy of Ursus Rare Books