Sketches of the Victoria Gold Diggings and Diggers, as they are
GILL, Samuel Thomas
Price: 18,850.00 AUD
London: H.H. Collins & Co, 1853. Quarto, with 24 cream-tinted lithographic plates; this copy preserving the original printed paper wrappers, decorated with vignettes of goldfields life, with book advertisements on yellow verso of front wrapper and on the back wrapper, in a neat old binding of half morocco and marbled boards. One of S.T. Gill's most desirable books: this is the rare London publication of the first 24 plates from Gill's famous series, Sketches of the Victoria Gold Diggings. This is the only London edition of Gill's Sketches and in this preferred version the illustrations are printed as lithographs on a tinted ground and in a much larger format than the Melbourne edition. Samuel Thomas Gill (1818-1880) is celebrated as a distinctly Australian artist who excelled in depicting the chaos, jubilation and despair of life on the goldfields. He travelled to the Bendigo diggings with his brother John in mid-1852, but soon found that sketching life on the fields offered more promise than the backbreaking work of prospecting itself. The vast spectacle delighted Gill, whose light-hearted yet realistic style was ideally suited to the task: 'his natural genius for identifying with the characters he portrayed was given full rein. The drawings of the diggers are extraordinarily observant but never critical' (McCulloch, Artists of the Australian Gold Rush, p. 84). Worth noting on the original wrappers preserved here is the publishers' statement on the inside of the front wrapper: "The interest evinced by the Public at the present time in connexion with the recently discovered Gold Fields of Australia, for which thousands of our countrymen have left their native shores, anxiously hoping to share the Golden Treasures so abundantly scattered over that extensive Continent, has induced the Publisher of these Sketches to lay them before the public, with the assurance that their accuracy and character will not fail to interest many of those who, from the fact of having friends and connexions engaged in the very localities and labours here depicted, will be aided by this effort to realize to their minds' eye, more vividly than otherwise could be done, the scenes, characters, and circumstances among which they are thrown." This copy has an interesting provenance having belonged to Edward Pescott, Geelong collector, probably acquired from Maggs Bros. as it has their note confirming that only this part was published; loosely inserted is Pescott's 1953 letter consigning the book to Keith M. Bowden, author of the first monograph on Gill. Provenance: Edward Pescott, Geelong collector, probably bought from Maggs Bros., London, with a note by them confirming that only this part was published; with Pescott's 1953 letter consigning the book to Keith M. Bowden, author of the first monograph on Gill; unidentified collector (?date) with romantic bookplate with initials "A.L.F." Some ageing to the wrappers.