Secondhand Rows 

Join Stephen Reid, our secondhand maestro, every month here as he takes a closer look at a couple of titles from his shelves.

May 2018

Gleebooks Bookshop - Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Rebecca Wiley’s Visit To Norman Lindsay At Springwood, May 1918 by Rebecca Wiley, Supplementary text by Barry Watts and Judy Lukin: Angus and Robertson, 1986. Hardcover. 130pp. Numerous Colour and b/w illustrations by Norman Lindsay. Good Condition in a Good Dustjacket. $30.00. 
Friday afternoon. 3 May 1918. The offices of Angus and Robertson. Fellow publisher Sydney Ure Smith is holding forth to George Robertson  about his latest commercial woes: ‘He despaired of getting the limited edition of the Pen Drawings of Norman Lindsay signed by the artist…He had written and urgently- wired Lindsay to come down and sign ‘em, but the beggar simply took no notice’. Robertson has the solution. Rebecca Wiley, head of Angus and Robertson’s Mailing Department, is given the following order: ‘Rebecca, I want you to go to Springwood by the 8.10 train tomorrow morning to see Norman Lindsay and get him to autograph 200 copies of his book’. At 10.20 the following morning, the intrepid signature-obtainer arrives in Springwood on a ‘glorious’ Autumn morning and discovers that the Lindsay home was ‘a good 3 miles further out’ at Faulconbridge. The local Estate Agent owns the only motor car in Springwood and ‘finally decided to run me out for six shillings’. The Lindsays had purchased their four-room sandstone cottage—in a state of disrepair—and the surrounding 17 hectares, from department store founder Francis Foy, five years previously. Norman built a timber studio and had begun gardening and landscaping projects. Rebecca Wiley presents her letter of introduction to Rose Lindsay. It states that she was chosen by Robertson for the task since ‘she is simply un-shockable—I mean by anything in the Art line’. While she awaits Norman Lindsay’s appearance, Rebecca is served refreshments in the parlour and remarks on one of Norman Lindsay’s obsessions: ‘All over the house there are no other pictures save Lindsay nudes…Nudes to the right of me, Nudes to the left of me, in oils, in water-colours, in black and white—you could not get away from them…’
‘N.L.’, as he is called, finally arrives. When informed of the purpose of Wiley’s unexpected visit, he replies: ‘Well, you’ll have to stop the whole week! Robertson’s a blooming autocrat! I can’t do it. Why Saturday’s my worst day, I always have the Bulletin work to finish’. However, some gentle coaxing from Rebecca Wiley sees him complete his signing duties within three quarters of an hour. With a few hours to spare before leaving for the 6.00pm train back to Sydney, Rebecca is given a tour of the grounds; learns of planned extensions to the house; surveys the art studio that provides Lindsay peace and quiet from a flock of domesticated turkeys and is invited to stay for lunch. ‘N.L.’ holds court on topics including the English class system, Irish Home Rule, Christianity and The National Gallery in Sydney refusing to pay his price of one hundred guineas for an illustration. The golden afternoon of a century ago gently passes by. Wiley wrote up this charming account of her visit on her return to Sydney. It was bound in manuscript form and filed away in the company archives to lie undisturbed for nearly seventy years. Until its reappearance in this handsome volume—with a very informative Supplementary Text. 100 years years later, it retains both its charm and historical interest.

HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE: A signed and numbered copy of the Norman Lindsay – Pen Drawings (1918 First Edition) – of which only 150 of the 200 copies were offered for sale - now fetches over $2,000. Stephen

With the return of the hugely popular MasterChef to our small screens I thought it timely to feature a selection of titles from our always interesting secondhand cooking section. So for all would-be Marco Pierre Whites and Nigellas feast your eyes on the following:
Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert (author of the classic The Cooking of South-West France). Wolfert has been described as ‘an adventuress and a highwire kitchen improviser’—indispensible qualities for arid lands or bachelors’ fridges. $18
Gourmet’s Old Vienna Cookbook by Lillian Langseth-Christensen. A rare print-on-demand re-issue of the 1959 classic with tantalizing dishes such as Gypsy Carp (Zigeunerkarpfen), Chicken Mimosa (Mimosenhuhner), Rum Raisin Fritters (Rum Rosinenkrapfen) and more. Dust off the André Rieu, slip on the lederhosen or dirndl and tuck into some Kalbsnieren Baden-Baden (Veal Kidneys in Truffle Sauce) with a well-chilled moiselle or two. $40
The Taste of Thailand by Vatcharin Bhumichitr. Still bearing a sticker from Bangkok’s exculsive Shangri-La Hotel this beautifully illustrated book includes old favourites and exotic regional dishes. Battered prawns with fresh pickles, cucumber stuffed with beef, hot & sour seafood salad, son-in-law eggs (‘eggs’ is apparently a euphemism—ouch!). Intended for the tourist market the book includes essays about Thai cuisine and culture and provides an interesting snapshot of the country when it was first published in 1988.  Scott

 
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