Brisbane, Flavelle, Roberts and Sankey, 1908.
Small octavo, 114,  (recto blank, with the device of the printers, Outridge Printing Co., on the verso) pages.
Original olive-green cloth lettered in gilt on the spine ('Noble Opal' and the author's surname) and front cover (the full title); cloth slightly marked, and lightly rubbed at the extremities; top edge, endpapers and adjacent leaves a little foxed; an excellent copy.
Flavelle's Gem Series Number 1. This copy is inscribed and signed to 'C.C. Brittlebank, with kind regards from Sydney B.J. Skertchly. Corinda, Qld. 6.3.08'. Sydney Skertchly (1850-1926) arrived in Brisbane in 1891 after a successful career as a geologist in places as varied as the Fenland and East Anglia, Egypt, California, Burma and China. In 1895-97 he was assistant government geologist in the Geological Survey of Queensland; he was President of the Royal Society of Queensland in 1898, and a founder and first president of the Field Naturalists' Club in 1906 (the 'Australian Dictionary of Biography' entry on Skertchly is most informative, without mentioning this publication). The author's end-note to the reader states that the publishers 'asked me to write a series of little books on gemstones, and gave me an entirely free hand. As this, the first of them shows, they will not be mere gatherings from other harvests, but original works embodying the results of my own experience'. An early, rare and important work on the subject (and we know of no other volumes in the Flavelle's Gem Series). The inscription and signature date from what appears to be the month of publication (reviews begin to appear in Queensland newspapers from 10 March 1908). Charles Clifton Brittlebank (1862-1945), the recipient of this copy, was a notable mycologist and natural history illustrator. Among many original papers on geology and plant diseases, Brittlebank's work includes the illustrations to French's 'Destructive Insects of Victoria' (1891-1911), Archibald Campbell's 'Nests and Eggs of Australian Birds' (1901), and many of the works of Daniel McAlpine, whom he succeeded as Vegetable Pathologist to the Department of Agriculture in Victoria. This copy also carries the later pencilled ownership signature of Edward Edgar Pescott (1872-1954), horticulturalist, naturalist, author and bibliographer. We currently have for sale two unsigned copies of this item, sourced from a significant collection on the subject. They prove the existence of distinctly variant issues: one contains an unnumbered advertising leaf for 'Queensland, the Queen of the Colonies' (verso blank) tipped in at the rear, the other is printed on textured (and coarser) paper, resulting in a noticeably thicker volume (14 mm as distinct from 11 mm). This signed copy is yet a third variant: while it is printed on the better-quality paper, it does not contain the additional advertising leaf (and it was clearly never present).