Book Collections


The Society's Library is largely based on four private collections that have given it a broad base in historical geography, colonial history, anthropology and travel.

The York Gate Geographical and Colonial Library.

In 1905 the Society purchased the York Gate Library of S.W. Silver, a London shipping merchant. This collection is largely made up of explorers' accounts, colonial histories and handbooks, and rare atlases, including Abraham Ortelius's world atlas of 1571 and 1598 and Arnold Colum's atlases of c.1650 and c. 1670. 27 books were published before 1599.   Over 860 titles were published prior to 1801.

The York Gate Library also includes Sir Joseph Banks' manuscript diary of his expedition to Newfoundland in 1766 and original watercolours by George French Angas.

The Library has been described as:-
'A source of special pride is the Society's ownership of the world-famous Library York Gate Library which is part of the Society's Library. Purchased in 1905 this remarkable collection of books and manuscripts relating to many aspects of Pacific exploration, geography and culture, contains original explorers' accounts, British colonial histories, rare maps and atlases and scientific periodicals. The York Gate Library was a private library amassed over a lifetime of collecting by Stephen William Silver (1819-1905), a London shipping merchant. The collection was housed at No 3 York Gate, Silver's London house in Regent's Park. Silver was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in London and for many years was a member of the Council. He became personally acquainted with many of the explorers who were completing the geographical knowledge of the unknown parts of the world. So extensive did Silver's collection become that a catalogue of the York Gate Library was published in 1882 with a second edition in 1886. The author, noted bibliographer Edward Augustus Petherick, described the collection as 'The literature of geography, maritime and inland discovery, commerce and colonisation'. (Macdonald, Bruce (Bruce Falconer), Filling in the Maps, 1995)

Books, articles and manuscripts concerning the York Gate Library

BORROW, K. T.  Books in the York Gate Library published in or before 1700. Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch)   Vol.58 1957  p. 113-120  (an alphabetical list of 104 items which predate 1700)

BOTHA, Frikkie   The York Gate Library: in search of Stephen William Silver.   Philobiblon: journal of the  Society of Bibliophiles in Cape Town. New series, nos 1 and 2, March and June 1997.  p. 4-22

FINNIS, H. J. The MSS of the York Gate Library.  Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch) vol. 53 1952  p.29-45 

HANKEL, Valmai  Not Silver but Gold: S.W. Silver and the York Gate Library.  South Australian Geographical Journal.  Volume 104, 2005.  p.76-92

HENDERSON, Kelly.  Adelaide’s York Gate Geographical and Colonial Library.  Australian Heritage, Number 14 Autumn 2009  p. 13-16

MANDER-JONES, Phyllis.  Catalogue of the manuscripts in the library of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, (South Australian Branch) Inc.  Adelaide, the Society, 1981. (Available on Society website, along with the Supplement to Mander-Jones)

MACDONALD, Bruce (Bruce Falconer), 1947-  Filling in the maps : a cameo of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, South Australian Branch Inc. [Adelaide] : Australian Bureau of Statistics [and] the Royal Geographical Society, 1994.
 
PEAKE-JONES, Kenneth   The Branch without a tree; the centenary history of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, (South Australian Branch) Incorporated, 1885 to 1985.  Adelaide, the Society, 1985.

PETHERICK, Edward Augustus. Catalogue of the York Gate Geographical and Colonial Library. London, J. Murray, 1882.  (First published by R. Clay and Sons, 1882. Although Petherick is given as the compiler, this book is often cited with main entry under S.W. Silver or title)
 
PETHERICK, Edward Augustus. Catalogue of the York Gate Library formed by Mr. S. William Silver: an index to the literature of geography, maritime and inland discovery, commerce and colonisation.  2nd ed.  London : J. Murray, 1886.

PETHERICK, Edward Augustus. Catalogue of the York Gate Library formed by Mr. S. William Silver: an index to the literature of geography, maritime and inland discovery, commerce and colonisation. 2nd ed.   Mansfield Centre, Connecticut, Martino Publishing, 2005 (a reduced size facsimile of the 1886 edition)

PETHERICK, Edward Augustus.   The York Gate Library (address to members of the Library Association who visited the York Gate Library in London on 7th May 1889).    National Library of Australia MS 760/4/26

REGISTER (?) newspaper.  December 9th 1908.  York Gate Library: official opening  (4.3 columns).  (From Gill newspaper clippings volume 1– Title of newspaper and page numbers not given.  Sp 994 R888c)

ROACH, B. S   The York Gate Library (paper read before the Society, October 15, 1933).   Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch)   Vol. 34 1932-33   p. 64-69

TERRA COGNITA: four hundred years of European exploration, travel and discovery: an exhibition to celebrate the centenary of the opening of the York Gate Geographical and Colonial Library in South Australia, 22 February-30 March 2008, introduction by Valmai Hankel; curator, Kevin Griffin.  Adelaide, Royal Geographical Society of South Australia, 2008

THE YORK Gate Library.  Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia (South Australian Branch) Vol. 11 Sessions 1908/9 and 1909/10.  p 16-22. (an account of the official opening December 8th 1908 – appears to be same text as appeared in the newspaper the following day – see ‘Register’ above).  (Note later in this volume of Proceedings on page 56 (meeting of April 29th 1910) Silver’s daughter is reported as having visited the library.    ‘Miss Silver expressed her delight at the general appearance of the Library, and that such splendid accommodation had been found for the books her late father had collected’

YORK Gate Library; inventory of the “additions” to York Gate Library; showing the number of the case in which each item is packed. 220 page bound book with hand written, broadly alphabetical list of books, with case numbers. Contained in maroon book box, with spine label “Additions to the York Gate Library”.   (RGSSA MS Y) (Contains about 1700 titles which were added to the library after the publication of the 1886 catalogue)

Books Acquired from Thomas Gill

Thomas Gill was a founding member of the Society and attended the preliminary meeting on 10 July 1885. He was the Society’s Honorary Treasurer from 1885 until his death in 1923.  He was also Under Treasurer of State from 1894-1920. Gill has been called the ‘Father of South Australian bibliography.’ He produced Bibliography of South Australia (1886) and Bibliography of the Northern Territory (1903) which were compiled from books largely in his collection. Gill was awarded the ISO in 1903, CMG in 1918. This collection of over 2400 titles is particularly rich in South Australian and Australian exploration.

Books from the Library of F Lucas Benham

In 1939 about 4,000 titles (mainly on anthropology, geography and travel) were bequeathed to the library by Dr Frederick Lucas Benham.

The Jim Faull Library

In 1990 Jim Faull donated his personal collection of over 100 books on South Australian local history.



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