The Gawler Handbook. A Record of the Rise and Progress of that important Town; to which are added Memoirs of McKinlay the Explorer and Dr Nott
Adelaide, Goodfellow & Hele [almost certainly the Author - James Dally was convinced], 1880.
Octavo, 182, 30 (advertisements) pages plus 6 lithographed plates (of farm machinery by James Martin & Co.) and 17 albumen paper carte-de-visite photographs individually mounted on tipped-in captioned leaves.
Blind-decorated maroon cloth lettered in gilt on the front cover (with a later gilt-lettered cloth title-label along the spine, originally untitled); cloth a little flecked, slightly sunned on the spine, and a little rubbed and bumped at the extremities; some mounts lightly cockled as ever (a production flaw); a few trifling signs of use; basically an excellent good copy (internally fine, with the photographs in superb condition).
A rare and desirable item, attested to by the provenance of this copy: it has the armorial bookplate of Charles Glover on the pastedown, and the blind-stamp of Sir Thomas Ramsay on the flyleaf ('T.M.R. / Library of / T.M. Ramsay'). Ferguson 11744; Holden 70. Holden's entry is more accurate and informative, although the photographs may vary slightly between copies. The photograph facing page 16 in this copy is a portrait of Dr Nott, rather than 'Frankel's Hotel' as called for in Holden (facing page 17). Two other photographs are less-common variant images of the same subject: these are 'Fotheringham's Cordial Factory' (facing page 57), and 'Stewart's Music Emporium' (facing page 96). These variations notwithstanding, two separate editions were produced: one in wrappers, with advertisements on the verso of the front cover and on both sides of the rear cover, without photographs (but with the lithographs not noted by Ferguson); the other in gilt-lettered cloth, without the cover advertisements, containing 17 mounted photographs plus the lithographs. Both contain 30 pages of advertisements at the rear. Rare in any state, and in our view, the version on offer is one of the more important and interesting photographically illustrated books produced in Australia. 'The handbook is illustrated with a number of views by Mr J. Taylor, the local photographic artist, representing the most important edifices and establishments in town' (Holden, quoting a contemporary review). The frontispiece is a portrait of John McKinlay (1819-1872); there are 14 pages devoted to him (he married a Gawler woman in the early 1850s and was based in the town until his death). Justice is not done to the other photographs in describing them prosaically as 'the most important edifices and establishments in town'. Without exception, signs of life and day-to-day activities flesh out the images, and most of the businesses - butcher shop, photographic studio, cordial factory, furnishing warehouse, music emporium - feature well-stocked windows or yards and numerous staff members or customers. Holden reproduces two interesting ones (including perhaps the best, the butcher shop, captioned merely 'Hodgson & Clements'), but there are wonderful vignettes in many others. Not least of these are the horse-drawn tram in front of the 'Commercial Bank' and the ornate hearse outside 'F. Fowler's Furnishing Warehouse'. While we are on the subject of death, one chapter stands out. Among those to be expected, say on 'Horticultural and Agricultural Progress. Gardens around Gawler', or 'The Humbug Society. Flam! Bam! Sham!', or 'The Streets - Number of Businesses - Description of Hotels', there is Chapter XI: 'The Neville and Adamson Tragedy'. Its thirteen pages describe in great detail the events surrounding the double suicide 'and its romantic accomplishment' of Neville and his partner Adamson. 'It is universally believed that Neville was the leading spirit in the suicide, and so strong was Adamson's affection, love, friendship, or whatever it may be termed, for his companion, that he consented to take that final leap in the dark in the wine cellar, with him to visit that 'bourne whence none return''.