SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1935. Volume 6. Number 11.
Turnbull Library. — Its Priceless Treasures
Its Priceless Treasures.
"It's a revelation"; "If only three hours here were three years"; "A storehouse of literature's rich and wonderful legacy." These were among the remarks which the members of a party from the Literary Society discovered in the visitors' book at Turnbull Library on Tuesday of last week. And after listening to talks by Mr. Johannes Andersen and his assistant, and after examining and handling a few of the library's more valuable volumes, the sincerity and truth of these comments were driven home.
Mr. Andersen showed how the value of beautiful literature is enhanced by fine printing and binding. Here in New Zealand, he said, we were fortunate in having, through Mr. Turnbull's interest in New Zealand and then English literature, some of the most "beautiful" books in the world.
To illustrate his general remarks on literature, Mr. Andersen read some of his favourite passages. From Shakespeare he chose Oberon's compliment to Queen Elizabeth, and Cleopatra's immortal longings, after Antony's death. He then read characteristic speeches from Guido and Guiseppe in Browning's "Ring and the Book," and poems from Herrick, Keats and Shelley, the "ineffectual angel."
Dressing a Book.
Mr. Taylor, who has been abroad studying Continental and American bookbinding and printing, then gave us a short history of printing. He showed up an original copy of Plutarch's Lines, and an enormous "Pocket Bible" printed in 1493. So good was the vellum used to bind the book and of such high quality the paper, that these books were still as good as the day they came from the press. He compared them with the New Zealand papers fifty years ago, which were now in a state of decomposition. This high standard of production was not, however, maintained, until we come to the work of Morris and Burne-Jones, in England. We were shown a hand-printed copy of Morte d'Arthur, various types of printing from French firms; an interesting Blake facsimile: two precious volumes of the first edition of words-worth's "lyrical Ballads." these old styles of printing and binding were then compared with recent work from the Lone Such press and the American "Colophon."
Rests with Us.
Mr Andersen explained to an enquirer that the Government, to whom the magnificent library now belongs, had, of course, considering their recent necessitous expenditure, no hope or desire to continue Mr. Turnbull's work in buying valuable English books. It rested, he pointed out, with the young people to change the policy.