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Rare books from the RHSV collection

July 24, 2023 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


We are thrilled that Rare Book Week and its fair are back after a three-year COVID hiatus!

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has had a very active collecting policy both in Australia and back ‘home’ in the UK since its creation in 1909. In the 1920s, when the Victorian Branch of the Royal Geographical Society closed, their archive and library were absorbed by the RHSV. Whereas our collection is concentrated on the history of Victoria, the RGS collection is much broader, covering exploration across Australia and the Pacific and, because of this ‘misfit’, the RGS collection was not catalogued until very recently.

Jillian Hiscock, our Collections Manager, will speak about three items from the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia: two first-edition explorers’ journals and the Moll Atlas published in 1719: A new and complete map of the whole world shewing the situation of its principal parts. Viz the seas, kingdoms, rivers, capes, ports, mountains, woods, trade-winds, monsoons, variation of the compass climats [sic] &c.

This event will follow, in the same venue, a Rare Book Week event at 11am from the Ephemera Society of Australia. Morning tea is available before, between and during both events. For more information about the Ephemera Society event click here. Edwin Jewell will be speaking about material from Australian internment camps.

Herman Moll (c. 1654-1732) was one of the most important London mapmakers in the first half of the eighteenth century.  Moll was probably born in Bremen, Germany, around 1654. He moved to London to escape the Scanian Wars. His earliest work was as an engraver for Moses Pitt on the production of the English Atlas, a failed work which landed Pitt in debtor’s prison. Moll also engraved for Sir Jonas Moore, Grenville Collins, John Adair, and the Seller & Price firm. He published his first original maps in the early 1680s and had set up his own shop by the 1690s.

Moll’s work quickly helped him become a member of a group which congregated at Jonathan’s Coffee House at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill, where speculators met to trade stock. Moll’s circle included the scientist Robert Hooke, the archaeologist William Stuckley, the authors Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and the intellectually-gifted pirates William Dampier, Woodes Rogers and William Hacke. From these contacts, Moll gained a great deal of privileged information that was included in his maps.

Over the course of his career, he published dozens of geographies, atlases, and histories, not to mention numerous sheet maps. His most famous works are Atlas Geographus, a monthly magazine that ran from 1708 to 1717, and The World Described (1715-54). He also frequently made maps for books, including those of Dampier’s publications and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Moll died in 1732. It is likely that his plates passed to another contemporary, Thomas Bowles, after this death.



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July 24, 2023
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
03 9326 9288


RHSV Gallery Downstairs
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
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03 9326 9288