Rare Book Discussions


Rare Book Discussion Group

The meetings are normally held on every 4th Thursday in the month, in the Society’s rooms at 10:30.  The program for 2019 is available here.   This event is free for members of the RGSSA. Non-members are welcome to attend and tickets are available for $10 per person. The RGSSA welcomes new members who wish to make a contribution to the success of the society.  There is a limit of 24 people at each meeting. To ensure a place please book through the following link which will become active a few weeks before each session

Eventbrite - RGSSA Rare Book Discussion Group

The Rare Book Room: its RGSSA contents, protection, and preservation.  

28th November

The climate-controlled, high-security Rare Book Room of the State Library holds about 50 items owned by the Society, ranging from single letters to huge volumes of art work.

Hear from State Library staff how the Rare Book room is managed, how audits and conservation take place and look at some of the rare and valuable contents not recently shown at a Rare Book Discussion Group session.


16th and 17th Century editions of voyages to the Americas by the De Bry family.

26th September

The de Bry family in the late 16th and early 17th century published some of the greatest collections of voyages to the Americas by European explorers. Theodor trained under his grandfather and father as a goldsmith and engraver of copper plates in the Flemish town of Liege.

The images portrayed in the copper plate engravings are of the highest artistic quality.  The Society is very fortunate to have all 13 parts of this very rare collection.

Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis.  

25th July

These natural phenomena have fascinated and puzzled observers and scientists alike over the centuries.

The RGSSA library contains some spine-tingling first-hand descriptions of these dramatic events.  Equally interesting are the early attempts to explain them, and to see how the threads were gradually drawn together into the modern theory of Plate Tectonics.

Antarctic Exploration: from Weddell to Wilkins.

27th June

Antarctica was explored by sea from 1822 on- wards, and on land from 1898 by Bernacchi, Shackleton and Mawson, This was followed by the “race” to the South  Pole by Norwegian Amundsen and Britain’s Scott in 1911-12.  What else does our Collection hold on this amazing “last place on earth”, recently visited by our presenter?

Children’s literature in the Society’s Collection

23rd May

Did you know that our library contains an illustrated children’s tale, written in verse by the poet Robert Burns whose statue stands in the forecourt of the State Library?

What other literature does the Society’s collection hold? Why was it included in the Society’s collection?

John and Elizabeth Gould, Ornithology, Art and Entrepreneurship.
By popular demand an additional session – 30 May at 10:30 am

18th April

John Gould is well known for his work in the mid-19th century identifying and recording birds and publishing his beautifully illustrated folios of birds including the eight volumes of Birds of Australia. Gould used various artists for his finished works including Edward Lear and his wife Elizabeth who is not so well known, but who was a major contributor, meanwhile having eight children. Gould visited Adelaide and Kangaroo Island and went on a short expedition with Charles Sturt.

The RGSSA and the State Library of SA have an impressive collection of original books of John Gould’s illustrations many of which will be on display.

Flax and its use from ancient to modern times.
Thursday 28 March

Flax has been cultivated and used in many countries over the ages principally for fibre (linen), seed, and oil. Linen cloth spun, woven and dyed, was used
for thousands of years before paper and printed rec- ords for royal, religious, funerary and ceremonial purposes.

For many, the fibre represented currency, bartered in trade from country to country, prior to the development of money or coin currency.

Newspaper Clippings from 1860 to 1880.
Thursday 28th February 2019

Charles Davies MD had many hobbies including collecting cuttings from several Adelaide newspa-pers, carefully pasting them into 36 volumes of scrapbooks.

Articles were written with all the prejudices of the day and seen through the eyes of those who were there to witness the events of the time.

The Society has a large collection of Rare Books and Maps.