Rare Books

Past Exhibitions

Libri: Italian passion and the book

The Symposium 24 July 2013

Leigh Scott Gallery, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne

1.00pm    Introduction 1.00 - 1.15

1.15pm    Andrea Rizzi .Language of love and love for language: the enterprise of Poliphilo's dream   1.15 – 2.00

The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili has puzzled scholars for centuries: its almost impenetrable language defeats explanation, the woman searched and loved by Poliphilo is presented as a mysterious and living-dead woman (despite appearing as young and beautiful in the text's woodcuts), and the identity of the author is still debated fervently by experts. This paper argues that the most effective key to unlock these mysteries is love: the Hypnerotomachia is a Dantesque journey in search of the humanistic ideal of antiquity and the syncretic meeting between past and present, ancient and contemporary languages, an enduring love for knowledge and the death of Latin. 

Andrea Rizzi is the Cassamarca Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies and convenor of the Italian Program at the University of Melbourne. He has been recently awarded the prestigious Harvard Villa I Tatti Fellowship in Italian Renaissance Studies. His research focuses on the role of Italian Renaissance translators and early Venetian historiography. He coordinates and teaches a very successful interdisciplinary overseas intensive program on the Italian Renaissance in Venice. 

2.00pm    Jaynie Anderson - An Erotic Antiquarian Romance: the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili  (Venice, 1499)  

The book was published in Venice in 1499 by Aldus Manutius, a publisher who specialized in editions of Greek and Latin texts.   Aldus only published two illustrated books. Both were commissioned and paid for by entrepreneurs.   For an incunable this is not a very rare book - at least three hundred copies survive, out of an edition of 2000.   It was paid for by a wealthy Veronese lawyer, Leonardo Crasso, who dedicated the volume to Guidobaldo, Duke of Urbino.  Crasso paid Manutius for the cost of printing the volume, the printer did not participate in the financing or profits.  Like other entrepreneurs in incunables Crasso presumably sold his venture to booksellers by catalogue over a number of years, and the profits from such a venture could be considerable.  However, in 1509 Crasso applied for his copyright to be extended, during which time others should not be allowed reprint or sell the book in the Veneto.  He said that war and other urgent causes had prevented distribution.  In my presentation I shall discuss the extraordinary book and the critical reception of the imagery of the most famous incunable ever published, especially the impact of the woodcut illustrations on Renaissance artists in Italy, Germany and France. 

2.00 -2.45
15 min break

3.00pm  Antonino Nielfi – Futurism’s Parole in libertà!: telling, assembling and representing 3.00 –3.45

In 1912 Italian Futurism took its radical rebellion against past and tradition into the written word through the publication of the Technical Manifesto of the Futurist Literature. It was in this work that the avant-garde announced its first step towards a radical disruption of the conventions of writing, known as the “words-in-freedom”. The Manifesto enunciated a radical, “furious need to liberate the word, by taking them out from the prison of the Latin phrase” and set the rules according to which such a liberation was to take place. In the eyes of the artists, traditional literature’s grammatical rigour and logical order could not stand the test of modernity’s increasing velocity and mechanical syntheses. The rules of punctuation, expression and construction of the sentence would be radically rethought, as causality, essentiality and distant analogy transformed the written word into a powerful tool of conveyance of meaning. At the same time, creative typography would mutate text into the very product of the visual imagery it aimed to generate, recall and register, thus turning it into a true work of art.
This paper will explore some of the most iconic products of this ‘literary revolution’, such as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Zang Tumb Tumb (1912) and Boccioni-Marinetti-Carrà-Piatti’s Guerrapittura (1915). Also, particular attention will be dedicated to the works of Francesco Cangiullo, such as Bello. Lettere umanizzate (1914), Milano-Dimostrazione (1915) and Caffeconcerto: Alfabeto a sorpresa (1919), in which the word-in-freedom takes the shape of an ironical commentary of the cultural ferment of a rapidly modernising époque.

Antonino L. Nielfi is a graduate magna cum laude in Italian Literature (BA) and Art History (MA) from the University of Bergamo, Italy. As a PhD Student in Art History at the University of Melbourne, conducting research on Italian Futurism’s relationship with the crowds, as an evolving trope throughout the first and the second phase of the movement (1909-1939). He is also currently curating the exhibition “SPEED 2014, The Magnificent Beauty of Mechanised Velocity” for the Italian Embassy in Australia.


3.45pm  My experiences: Italians in Australia, short talks

Angela Cavalieri, artist 3.45-4.00        

Angela Cavalieri was born in Melbourne and studied printmaking at the Victorian College of the Arts from 1981-1983. Since 1984, she has exhibited in solo exhibitions at various venues including Australian Galleries, Gallery 101 and Christine Abrahams. Angela was included in the Venice Biennale, Italian Pavillion In The World Project in 2011 and has won numerous Artists book awards. Her work is held in many Australian Institutions, including the Bailleu library, University of Melbourne and also Geneva and Barcelona.

Gianni Formica, Manager, Brunetti 4.00-4.15

Paolo Baracchi, Coordinator, Co.As.It. Italian Historical Society 4.15-4.30

Paolo Baracchi, born in Walthamstow, England, grew up in Italy. He studied philosophy at the University of Florence, graduating with a thesis on the scientific status of psychoanalysis. In 1994 Paolo moved to Australia where he completed a PhD in philosophy at the University of Melbourne. From 2007 Paolo has worked as the Coordinator of the Co.As.It. Italian Historical Society, a rewarding position that has put him in touch with the history and culture of the Italian community in Australia. Besides editing the Italian Historical Society Journal, Paolo regularly collaborates with the Museo Italiano on its exhibitions and public programs.

Questions 4.30-4.45

4.45pm Summary and thank you







500 years on:

Machiavelli's 'The Prince' and political thought in Renaissance Italy

2013 is the 500th anniversary of the writing of Niccolo Machiavelli’s radical treatise on political power. Although The Prince is only one of Machiavelli’s writings on political theory, it has remained the best known. The stark nature of the suggestions and tactics, urging leaders to be brutal and even treacherous came as a shock to readers. Machiavelli’s reasoning was that, although he would have preferred democracy and benevolence, the reality of the human lust for wealth and power meant this was not possible, and in fact, detrimental, as any leader would be sucked under the maelstrom of the treachery and ambition of those around them. Putting Machiavelli into the context of his own time, Italy in the 1500’s, it is easier to understand his attitude, being a far harsher time than the present day, at least in the West.

These books come from the Raab collection held in Special Collections in the Baillieu Library, the University of Melbourne. The Raab Collection is a collection of books relating to political thought, established by the bequest of Mr Leo Raab, to commemorate his son who died in 1962 after an accident while walking in the mountains of Calabria.

Ground floor, Baillieu Library, University of Melbourne 15 February to 31 March 2013

raab exhibition flier


"The Loves, Rages and Jealousies of Juno"

4 December-31 January 2013 Ground floor Baillieu Library


The current exhibition on the ground floor of the Baillieu Library displays prints about the Roman goddess Juno. Included are tales of her philandering husband, Jupiter; her forays into the Underworld; and her role in the Trojan War. Meg Sheehan who curated the exhibition as part of her internship with the Baillieu Library Print Collection will give a floor talk on Monday 10 December at 1.00pm to 1.20pm. The exhibition will be on display from 4 December to 31 January 2013.


Meanjin exhibition

This exhibition is based around a series of linocut blocks that represent portraits by Louis Kahan, beginning in 1955 and ending in 1974, of Australian literary and cultural figures that blew through the doors of the Meanjin literary journal.

These drawings became accompaniments to the stories, fiction, poetry, and criticism published in Meanjin, and give shape to the long and tumultuous history of one of Australia’s longest running literary journals. Kahan’s portraits gave image to text, and faces to writers, leaving us with an almost mythic reflection of Australian cultural life of the period.


Ground Floor, Baillieu library, October 15 - November 30 2012


The exhibition is curated by Sally Heath and Anna Heyward.

meanjin cover



Knowledge Through Print: A Melbourne Perspective

knowledge through print cover

Leigh Scott Gallery, Level 1, Baillieu Library, 8 June to 2 September 2012

To coincide with the Cultural Treasures Festival, the University Library’s Special Collections will provide the books for an exhibition which re-visits the renowned Printing and the Mind of Man exhibition, which was held in London in 1963. Curated by Wallace Kirsop and Louise Box, the exhibition will showcase a selection of items from the 1963 exhibition and feature some items which perhaps should have been included in that exhibition. The exhibition will complement the 2012 ANZAAB Australian Antiquarian Book Fair which is being held in the University of Melbourne’s splendid Wilson Hall. The exhibition will run from June to August 2012.

The original 1963 exhibition was presented alongside the eleventh International Printing Machinery and Allied Trades Exhibition, and aimed to show the printing industry its own historical evolution while reminding the general public what western civilisation owes to print. The exhibition’s purpose was to display the technical progress of printing as a craft, the finest achievements of printing as an art, and the impact of printing on the mind of Western man since its invention. The invention of printing with moveable type was crucial to the development of western civilisation, and the importance of Johann Gutenberg’s invention cannot be underestimated. The spread of printing throughout Europe was rapid and by the end of the 15th century all the major states had at least one important publishing centre. Fittingly, the University of Melbourne’s exhibition—like the 1963 exhibition–will open with an example of the 42-line Bible, the first book produced with moveable type.


Adventure & Art

the fine press book from 1450 to 2011

an exhibition at the Baillieu Library
the University of Melbourne
March to May 2012

Leigh Scott Gallery, Level 1, Baillieu Library, 1 March to 27 May 2012

Adventure & Art, curated by poet and fine press printer Alan Loney, is about the printer’s craft, evidenced from the first printed books in the 15th century, and given a hugely influential impetus by William Morris and the Arts & Craft movement at the end of the 19th. This exhibition will show how a number of technologies that are obsolete in commercial terms are still current in creative & craft terms in the 21st century. Exhibited will be books from the Baillieu Special Collections from Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia.

Art & Adventure Symposium

A Symposium discussing the nature and definition of fine press books will be held from 2-5pm on March 9th 2012 in the Leigh Scott Room in the Baillieu Library. Each of the speakers at this Symposium, has arrived at the fine press book in different ways. It is hoped that the Symposium will inform as much as interest and delight those who see the exhibition and attend the day's discussions.

Speakers at the symposium are Alan Loney, Andrew Schuller, Peter Vangioni, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Carolyn Fraser and Caren Florance.

Symposium speakers

Chris Wallace-CrabbeChris Wallace-Crabbe
Chris Wallace-Crabbe AM has a worldwide reputation as poet, while his most recent books of verse include Telling a Hawk from a Handsaw and the forthcoming New and Selected Poems. He chairs Australian Poetry Limited and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Melbourne. Also a public speaker and commentator on the visual arts, he specializes in ”artists’ books”, and all that they might mean. Read It Again, a volume of critical essays, was published in 2005. Among other awards he has won the Dublin Prize for Arts and Sciences and the Christopher Brennan Award for Literature.

duck_ANCACaren Florance
Free-falling through the space left by the demise of Australian private presses, Ampersand Duck is an art-oriented letterpress imprint that produces work across the spectrum of book arts and fine press work. Based in Canberra, Caren Florance prints independently or collaboratively, sometimes jobbingly. Her particular area of interest is technological obsolescence and re-purposing. Caren has studied visual arts and English.


Alan LoneyAlan Loney

Alan Loney’s first book of poems was published in 1971 and he began printing in 1974. He was co-winner of the poetry prize in the New Zealand Book Awards in 1977, Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland in 1992, and Honorary Fellow of the Australian Centre at the University of Melbourne 2002-2006, and Convener of the Conference on the History of the Book in New Zealand at University of Auckland 1995. He also received the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for Poetry in 2010. Loney has published 11 books of poetry, and eight books of prose with a recent emphasis on the nature of the book. His latest book of essays, The books to come, was published by Cuneiform Press in 2010. He will be one of six international speakers at the Codex Symposium in California in 2013. His latest press is Electio Editions.


CarolynFraserCarolyn Fraser

Carolyn Fraser is a Melbourne-born letterpress printer and writer. In 2005, after eleven years in the US, she shipped a 20ft. container of letterpress equipment to Melbourne and re-established Idlewild Press in the Nicholas Building. She has published three titles under the Idlewild imprint: Seventeen Reasons, The Extinguishing of Stars and Envelope. Seventeen Reasons was the recipient of a Rounce & Coffin Club Award for Book Design in 2000. These fine press books are in national and international collections, including the State Library of Victoria, the New York Public Library, Yale University and the Library of Congress. In addition to publishing artist books, Carolyn teaches letterpress printing and is a regular contributor to Uppercase. 

AndrewSchullerAndrew Schuller

Andrew Schuller is a retired book publisher. He worked for Oxford University Press in Oxford for over 30years, is a member of the Oxford Guild of Printers and  occasionally prints under the WordWynker Press imprint. He now lives most of the year in Canberra, where he spends some time as a publishing consultant and researching private presses in Australia and the impact of digitization on scholarly publishing. He has delivered papers at the conferences of the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing.


Peter Vangioni

Peter Vangioni
Peter Vangioni is a curator at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu and has curated exhibitions on Ralph Hotere, Petrus van der Velden and British modernist prints from the mid 20th century. In recent years he has been instrumental in establishing the acquisition of artist's books for the Gallery's collection. He has a keen interest in hand printed books and operates his own private press, the Kowhai Press, from home.


Banned Books in Australia

banned books
Baillieu Library, 7 June to late August 2010

Melbourne has a long history of banning books (both Australian and imported; past and modern) that reflects the transience of social norms and community values.

The exhibition hopes to highlight the complexity of the state’s role in policing the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable publications, and how Australian publishers have deliberately challenged the authorities. The exhibition incorporates books from the University of Melbourne collections and private collections as well as artists' representations of this theme

This exhibition will coincide with the Bibliographical Society of Australia and New Zealand’s Annual Conference for 2010 titled ‘To Deprave and Corrupt: Forbidden, Hidden and Censored Texts’ to be held at the State Library of Victoria. A complementary exhibition will also be held at Monash University.



Wilson Hall, centre and symbol

Wilson hall

University, c.1888, Charles BristowWalker

Wilson Hall: Centre and Symbol of the University is an exhibition that aims to highlight the place of Wilson Hall within the history and minds of the University of Melbourne community.

Since the 1880s Wilson Hall has been the ceremonial heart of the University, serving as a venue for significant University occasions, including commencements, examinations and graduations.

The exhibition traces the Hall’s past, starting from its conception and the subsequent construction of the original gothic building in 1878-1882 with funds donated by Sir Samuel Wilson.

This Hall quickly achieved iconic status and inspired artists to portray the buildings majestic visage, which dominated the campus grounds until it was destroyed by fire in 1952.

The exhibition records this tragedy and the ensuing community response to the Wilson Hall Appeal Fund, demonstrating the emotional attachment people had formed with the building. This led to strong opinions in the debate of whether to restore the gothic ruins or re-build in modern style. It is here that the story of the “New Wilson Hall” begins and is subsequently explored through the narrative of its plan, construction and opening in 1956.

The exhibition draws upon the cultural collections of the University of Melbourne to provide a rich display of original architectural drawings, artworks, photographs and artefacts associated with the Hall.

Wilson Hall: Centre and Symbol of the University will be on display in the Leigh Scott Gallery, First Floor, Baillieu Library, from 15 March to 17 May 2010.


Write of Fancy: The Golden Cockerel Press

Ground floor, Baillieu Library, 17 August-26 September 2008

The exhibition Write of fancy, curated by Kerrianne Stone, explored the hearts and minds of the inventors, writers and artists of this British press which operated between 1920 and 1960. It showcased examples from the Baillieu Library’s exceptional collection of Golden Cockerel books, comprising the gifts of various individual donors and the Friends of the Baillieu Library. Examples included Eric Gill and Robert Gibbings’ collaboration on The four Gospels (1931), John Buckland Wright’s illustration of Endymion (1947), and maritime history books.

Golden Cockerel books achieved a visual harmony between content, typography and illustration. The exhibition is a chance to discover how this private press from its inception was a flight of fancy, and how through its words and images it became a ‘write of fancy.’


Murderous Melbourne: A Celebration of Australian Crime Fiction and Place

Leigh Scott Gallery, Baillieu Library, 10 June to 7 September 2008

Australia has nurtured many fine crime fiction writers over the years, starting with Mary Fortune and Fergus Hume in the late 1800s. However, the post-World War 2 years represent crime fiction’s ‘golden age’ in this country. The ranks of Australian crime fiction writers from this period include Carter Brown, S.H. Courtier, Geoff de Fraga, Charlotte Jay (inaugural winner of the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Novel in 1954), Helen Mace, A.E. Martin, Margot Neville, Eric North, James Preston, Elizabeth Salter, Arthur Upfield and June Wright — to name but a few. More recently, Marshall Browne, Peter Corris, Kerry Greenwood, Barry Maitland, Shane Maloney and Peter Temple (winner of the UK Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award in 2007) have been widely acclaimed for their crime fiction writing.

The exhibition Murderous Melbourne featured items from the University of Melbourne’s extensive collection of Australian crime fiction. It also showcased work by third-year students of architecture and Master’s students of landscape architecture from the University of Melbourne, who have used Australian crime fiction as a tool for stretching the boundaries of creativity and design. The architecture students have designed a Centre for Australian Crime Fiction, to be located on the car park adjacent to the north court of the Union building. A major influence on their designs was June Wright’s 1961 crime novel Faculty of Murder, set in the University of Melbourne. The landscape architecture students have designed stage props for S.H. Courtier’s crime novels See Who’s Dying (1967) and Murder’s Burning (1967), both set in the Australian outback.

Watch the podcast


Cambridge Collected: The Pierre Gorman Story

Leigh Scott Gallery, Baillieu Library, 20 March to 30 May 2008
Cambridge in Prints and Books

Comprising close to 3000 items dating from 1568 to the present, the collection of books and prints at the University of Melbourne relating to Cambridge – the University and the town – may well be the most extensive outside Cambridge itself. The University of Melbourne since its establishment in 1853 has had strong links with Cambridge University and collected books on all aspects of Cambridge. The acquisition of Pierre Gorman’s collection in 1994 on the initiative of the then Collections Management Librarian, Juliet Flesch, was therefore a valuable addition to the University’s material and the additions since that time, mostly donated by Pierre Gorman, has made the University of Melbourne collection of Cambridge books and prints truly world class. Amongst the particular strengths of the Cambridge Collection are the guide books and the histories of the university and colleges, many of them illustrated by the foremost artists of their day. There are important black and white or colour illustrations in various sizes by notable artists including Loggan, the Harradens, the Storers, Mason, Dyer, among many others. The University of Melbourne Library is the only Australian library to possess the rare Loggan 1st edition (1690) and the even rarer 2nd edition (1715). A highlight of the collection is a splendidly illuminated 1662 heraldic manuscript depicting the arms of the Earls of Cambridge, the Chancellors of Cambridge University and the colleges of Cambridge University.

Dr Pierre Patrick Gorman (1924-2006)

Pierre Gorman was born in Melbourne as the only child of Sir Eugene and Marthe Gorman. After graduating from Melbourne Grammar and then from the University of Melbourne with a BAgSci in 1949 and a BEd in 1951, Pierre went on to study at Cambridge University, from where in 1960 he became the first deaf person to take out a PhD.

Pierre was totally deaf from birth but, through the dedication of his parents and teachers as well as his own willpower and intelligence, he learnt to master the spoken language and became an expert lip reader.

Pierre had a long and distinguished career in England and Australia as educator of the deaf and a tireless advocate against discrimination towards people with disabilities. After retirement from the Faculty of Education at Monash in 1983 he offered his large collections of books and prints relating to Cambridge to the University of Melbourne where they were acquired in 1994 and 1995 respectively.

Perhaps because he did not have a sense of hearing, Pierre came to be particularly interested in the visual arts. He collected in great depth all aspects of the history of the University and town of Cambridge, but especially prints and books relating to his beloved Corpus Christi College.

The books and prints in the Gorman Cambridge Collection at the University of Melbourne were collected over a lifetime and to the end of his life Pierre continued to collect Cambridge books and donate them to the University. He documented the Gorman Cambridge collection in an exhaustive bibliography which also includes books on Cambridge found in other parts of the University of Melbourne collections.

For his services to the University of Melbourne Pierre was awarded an LLD honoris causa in 2000.

Past exhibitions using the Cultural Collections of the University of Melbourne


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