Level 3 Mortlock Wing State Library of South Australia North Terrace Adelaide SA 5000


The Society has a fascinating collection of treasures some of which are highlighted here.  Call back every weeks to see newly uncovered treasures!

Note:  The information presented has been prepared by volunteers of the RGSSA and is subject to revision as more research on the treasures is undertaken.


Butlers Bees 1

Charles Butler's The Feminine Monarchie, or the Historie of Bees, 1634

This is the first work on the science of beekeeping in the English language. Written by Charles Butler, who is known as the Father of English beekeeping, the text brought into the public consciousness that a bee colony is presided over by a queen.

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Shaws Catalogue of Cloths From Cooks Voyages 2

Catalogue of specimens of cloth collected during the voyages of Captain Cook, 1768-1779

This small book produced by Alexander Shaw in 1787 contains 38 samples of tapa cloth collected on the three voyages of Captain Cook to the South Pacific 1768-1779.

It is a rare example of items known to have certainly been on Cook's ships. It also contains anecdotes of early encounters with indigenous peoples.

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Goulds Synopsis 2

A Synopsis of the Birds of Australia and Adjacent Islands by John Gould 1837-1838

This is an original edition of John Gould's first venture into the study of Australian birds featuring artwork and lithography by Elizabeth Gould. It contains seventy three hand-coloured lithographic plates showing mainly the heads of more than 160 Australian birds.

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Fanny de Mole Wild Flowers of SA 1

Wildflowers of South Australia by Fanny de Mole, 1861

Wildflowers of South Australia was written and illustrated by Fanny Elizabeth de Mole (1835 - 1866). Published in 1861, it was the first book published on the botany of the province of South Australia.

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Mariners Magazine 08

The Mariners' Magazine - By Captain Samuel Sturmy (1633-1669)

This 1679 publication is a comprehensive text covering all aspects of navigation. Included are logarithmic tables, instructions in astronomy, geometry, trigonometry, latitude and longitude as well as "fireworks" and fortifications.

It also includes a number of unusual rotating circular paper calculators - forerunners of the circular slide rule.

It is one of the oldest books in the Treasures collection.

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Peutingers Strip Map 1

Peutinger Table - a 19th century copy of a strip map printed in 1598

Originally drawn in 1265 this strip map - depicting territory from England to China - is a 19th century copy comprising 11 panels and measuring approximately 34cm high and 6.74m long. The 16th century original of Tabula Peutingeriana is now conserved in the Austrian National Library Vienna.

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Goulds Icones Avium 1

John Gould's Icones Avium 1837-1838

An original edition featuring lithographs by Elizabeth Gould, renowned and prolific British natural history illustrator. Features “figures and descriptions of new and interesting species of birds from various parts of the globe."

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Coultards Water Canteen With Engraving

Coulthard’s Water Canteen

This water Canteen is emblematic of the unforgiving nature of the interior of Australia and the risks people took to reconnoitre the country. Pioneer William Coulthard died of thirst in 1858 while searching for pastoral country north of Port Augusta. He scratched his tragic last words on this canteen.

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Goulds Transactions 1

John Gould, Three papers on new species of birds, Transactions of Zoological Society, London

These papers, published in 1833 and 1847, are examples of the over 300 scientific papers by John Gould. They were published in the Transactions of the Zoological Society, London, and each has a hand-coloured lithographic plate of the subject bird, one of which was produced is by his artist wife Elizabeth Gould. The early papers show that in 1833, early in his career, John Gould was well established in scientific circles as an ornithologist.

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