Hordern House Rare Books

Member of ANZAAB - Australia

Since 1985 Hordern House has been a centre for antiquarian material in all forms, especially dealing with voyages and travels, discovery and exploration, as well as Australiana, and classic fields of rare book collecting.

We are now located in a former warehouse in Surry Hills, Sydney. Visitors are welcome by appointment.

We issue catalogues and lists online.

Explore our website to see a wide range of stock in various fields.


Muster of the “death ship” Hillsborough...1799
A remarkable original manuscript record of this famously harrowing voyage at the close of the eighteenth century, the worst and most deadly of all convict transport voyages. The convict transport Hillsborough sailed from Gravesend in December 1798, and arrived in Sydney on 26th July, 1799. Almost one third of the 300 convicts aboard had perished at sea. Some of the victims had been sick even before setting sail, while others who died before departure were replaced to “make up…the deficiency”. A further number died on arrival in Sydney.
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Philip Gidley King. Original Drawing of River and Trees.
An accomplished landscape signed by Philip Gidley King (1758-1808), Governor of the penal colonies at Norfolk Island and New South Wales during the early years of settlement. The unidentified scene is executed in graphite on laid paper bearing the watermark of Government issue paper of the period 1790-1810. The drawing is skilled, especially in the treatment of topography and vegetation, with an attention to detail befitting a naval officer of the era. Original art by any of the first colonial Governors is enormously rare.
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The Principles of Geology…1830-33
First edition of this classic by ‘the father of modern geology’, which “has been called the most important scientific book ever... and [which] shook prevailing views of how the earth had been formed" (Cambridge). “One of the key works in the nineteenth century encounters between science and Scripture, Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology sought to explain the geological state of the modern Earth by considering the long-term effects of observable natural phenomena.
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A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland…1793
The first separately published book on Australian botany. The Specimen of the Botany of New Holland contains the first illustrations of a number of Australian species, including the waratah. According to a note in the preface the drawings on which the fine hand-coloured plates were based were done in the colony by John White, the Surgeon-General, who was a keen amateur natural history artist and collector.
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A most attractive set in Bedford binding of the full first edition, as issued in two volumes over three years, of Robert Southey’s verse collection, his first book of poems published under his name alone, which includes his long poem “Botany Bay Eclogues” (pp. 75-104). Hayward notes that the first volume was suppressed after publication, and a second edition was printed later the same year. This fine set is an example of the true first edition, rarely found as here in a uniform set including the second volume in its first 1799 appearance.
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William Jackson Hooker. Exotic Flora...1823-27
A very fine and attractively bound copy of the first and only edition of one of Hooker's rarest and most beautifully illustrated works; an important work, it includes specimens from Australia described by Robert Brown, colonial botanist Charles Fraser, and Allan Cunningham. A particularly notable inclusion is the Banksia verticillata (no. 96) from western Australia, first noticed at King George Sound by Archibald Menzies on the Vancouver voyage “and brought by him to our gardens in 1794”; this banksia, now considered vulnerable, was later codified by Robert Brown when he returned to the region
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