Item #130978 Systematic Account of the Geology of Tasmania. Robert M. JOHNSTON.
Systematic Account of the Geology of Tasmania
Systematic Account of the Geology of Tasmania

Systematic Account of the Geology of Tasmania

Hobart, William Thomas Strutt, Government Printer, 1888.

Large quarto, [vi], [iii]-xxii, [2], 408 pages plus an unnumbered corrigenda leaf (verso blank) after page vi, 57 lithographic plates of fossils (some tinted, all with an accompanying caption leaf), a large folding colour geological map of Tasmania (moderately foxed, with a large sealed tear now expertly sealed), 5 colour geological sections (2 folding), 9 plates of Tasmanian scenes of geological interest (including 5 'Engraved by Geo. Collingridge, from original Sketch by W.C. Piguenit'), 2 Aboriginal portraits, and 7 assorted maps, diagrams and sections. The large head-and-shoulders portraits of 'King Billy' (William Lanne[y], circa 1835-1869) and Truganini (Trugernanner, 1812-1876 ), respectively 'the last Male' and 'the last Female' of the Tasmanian Aborigines, are lithographs by Alice Hudson derived from studio portrait photographs by Charles Woolley, taken at Oyster Cove in 1866.

Contemporary half calf and cloth, with a contrasting leather title-label on the spine; leather rubbed and marked, a little worn at the extremities, with short splits to the ends of both joints; scattered foxing (moderate in places); numerous sections of acidic text paper tanned (presumably as often); overall, a very good copy. We have seen another copy in what appears to be an identical binding, which makes us suspect (and suggest) it is as-issued.

Robert Mackenzie Johnston (1843-1918), civil servant, scientist and statistician, whose 'greatest claim to scientific fame was his monumental "Systematic Account of the Geology of Tasmania" (1888). Its treatment of the island's Permian, Triassic and Tertiary rocks and fossils demonstrated outstanding scientific skills and laid firm foundations for the serious study of Tasmanian geology' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography'). No argument there, but it really doesn't do justice to this pioneering work, produced under pioneering conditions, as the author's preface makes all too clear.

'In the year 1884 it was represented to the author that the Government were anxious that a work on the Geology of the Island, specially suited for the guidance of local students, mining prospectors, and others, should be compiled by a competent local observer; and as the author during the last seventeen years had taken a prominent part in the study of Tasmanian rocks, he was specially requested' to undertake the work. 'The production of a work of such magnitude has been a severe strain upon the author's physical powers, as necessarily the whole of the time engaged upon it during four years has been snatched, so to speak, from the hours which are usually devoted to rest and recreation.

Even in the great centres of Europe, where an author is surrounded by every requisite aid, the production of a work of this kind, under such cramped conditions, would be no ordinary task. But in a young colony like Tasmania the author is completely shut off from valuable sources of reference, and in the important work of illustration he is altogether deprived of the assistance of professional skill. It is not surprising, therefore, that the work should exhibit some imperfections, and more would possibly have appeared had it not been for the very generous way in which the author's personal friends came to his assistance'.

Item #130978

Price (AUD): $2,500.00

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