The Golden Age of Dutch Printing

In the seventeenth century, a period known as the Dutch golden age, Dutch book production led the world.

Atlas minor…noveau revue, et augmente / Gerardus Mercator (1512-94). Amsterdami, excusam in aedilus Judoci Hondii [1613]. RB 6113.1

Dutch dominance of European printing at this time can be attributed to two main factors: the Dutch Republic’s position as a centre of international trade, and its relative freedom of the press. This exhibition showcases some examples of fine Dutch printing held in Rare Books & Special Collections.

When: 18th March – 23rd September 2019

Where: Fisher Library, Level 1

Rare Books: Centenary of Architecture Exhibition

Architectural drawings

The Library wishes the Faculty of Architecture a Happy 100 Year Anniversary! With the introduction of an Architecture degree at the University of Sydney in 1918, opportunities were created for Australians to contribute to the architectural landscape.

We have two small exhibitions featuring the Faculty’s early years:

The SciTech Library displays the academic work of three women graduates – Rosette Edmunds (1924), Marjorie Holroyde (née Hudson) (1924) and Helen Turner (1930).

Fisher Library features the childhood drawings of Leslie Wilkinson, the first Professor of Architecture at the University from 1919 to 1947,  as well as his professional architectural plans including a commission for a house in Boambillee Avenue, Vaucluse and his illustration for the Circular Harbour scheme.

The exhibition runs from 4th September to 19th October. Viewers are welcome to draw their own conclusion between Wilkinson’s Punch magazine cover and the gargoyles around the Main Quad.


Architectural drawings


True to Type

If you have ever created a digital document, chances are you’ve come across the terms Italic, Roman, and Sans Serif.

This exhibition tells the story of these three enduring letter-form classifications, through early examples drawn from Rare Books & Special

When: 25 October 2018 – 31st January 2019

Where: Fisher Library, Level 3  Corridor & SciTech Library, glass cabinets

Rare Books: The Art of Mathematics

rare books illustration usyd

The exhibition will chart a course beginning at the close of the 1400s and relate a coherent and comprehensive narrative about the developments of mathematics (and science more generally) through to the nineteenth century. It will achieve this through reference to the art of mathematics. That is, through the scientific diagrams and engraved frontispieces that accompany the Library’s collection of treatises on mathematical topics. The exhibition will, therefore, draw on Laura Kotevska’s expertise as a historian and philosopher of mathematics to convey the rich and varied developments that took place during this period. The exhibition will include some of the most significant holdings of the Rare Books & Special Collections.

Located on Level 1 of Fisher Library, this exhibition runs from 13 August 2018 to 10 February 2019.

Exhibition: The Seeds of Songs and the Songs of Seeds: Warlpiri and Anmatyerr Women’s Songs

Yawulyu are a genre of Warlpiri women’s songs which encode knowledge of links to country, kinship connections and Dreaming stories as well as detailed ethnobiological knowledge from this unique region in the desert of Central Australia. This exhibition visually and auditorily presents this endangered genre of Indigenous Australian music through showcasing examples of Ngurlu ‘Seed’ and Watiyawarnu ‘Acacia tenuissima’ yawulyu sung by Warlpiri women from Yuendumu, Willowra and Alekerenge. This exhibition also features artwork and photographs of Warlpiri women singing, painting up and dancing these yawulyu.

This exhibition is at the Conservatorium Library from 6 August – 6 October.

Rare Books: Bookstall Company Exhibition

Rare Books and Special Collections are sharing with us these historical treasures in the Bookstall Company exhibition in Fisher Library, beginning on 30th July 2018 to 30 June 2019.

This was a retail publishing success story. Between 1904 and 1946 the NSW Bookstall Company released 234 books. The company sold books through its newsagencies, included smaller press items in its distribution network for a fee, and survived the Great Depression.

The Bookstall outlets were well situated at railway stations to sell a range of entertaining books to travellers when the 22.5 km journey from Central to Parramatta could take 50 minutes by train.
The settings and stories appealed to the diverse tastes of readers – Australian bush idylls and dangers, Pacific adventures, humour, romance, bushrangers, and Australian history. Read today, the stories reveal a view of life and values from a harsher time in Australia’s history.

The soft cover design with attention-grabbing cover art and illustrations throughout appealed to the public. Australian artists were contracted for this work, further linking the Bookstall Company to national identity and pride in the product.

Rare Books and Special Collections hold many of the N.S.W. Bookstall Co. publications, contracts, and 153 original book cover designs and illustrations. The exhibition using this material has been curated by Dr Peter Kirkpatrick (Associate Professor of Australian Literature) and Dr Anita Callaway (Nelson Meers Foundation Lecturer in Australian Art). Visit our exhibition and imagine Australia in the time of family farms, remote islands, and long train journeys.


bookstall company cover