# 43292

RENWICK, Hannah Crawford (field collector and compiler)

[HERBARIUM] Ferns and Flowers from The Brisbane Water District N.S.W. / From Hannah Crawford Renwick to her Aunt, Mrs. Mary Carey.

  • Sold

[Probably between 1880 and 1890]. Large quarto album (295 x 250 mm), with binder’s ticket of J.W.R. Clarke, George Street, Sydney to rear pastedown; pictorial red cloth, the upper board with floral-motif decoration elaborately tooled in gilt, silver and black (bright and virtually unrubbed); front free-endpaper inscribed in ink ‘Ferns and Flowers from The Brisbane Water District N.S.W. / From Hannah Crawford Renwick to her Aunt, Mrs. Mary Carey’; [40 leaves] with pressed native fern and wildflower specimens skilfully mounted on the recto of each, every specimen in the album accompanied by its botanical name neatly inscribed in ink on the mount; the first 38 leaves have fern specimens (most mounted individually), while the last two have group arrangements of wildflowers; the compiler reinforced the edges of the leaves with handmade paper borders (despite this, there are some later tape repairs to the fore-edges of a couple of leaves); apart from some light spotting along the gutter of the title-leaf, the album is completely free from foxing; the specimens themselves were mounted with meticulous care and as a result have survived intact and undisturbed on their mounts.

A wonderful colonial example of pteridomania – the Victorian craze for the collecting and aesthetic appreciation of ferns.

Aside from its unusually fine condition, this attractive herbarium has two other attributes which make it of far greater interest than more commonly found generic examples. First, all of the specimens are identified by their scientific name, which is a rarity in an album compiled by an amateur collector; and second, we know from the title-leaf inscription the precise locality where the specimens were field-collected: picturesque Brisbane Water, north of Sydney (so-named in 1825 in honour of the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane).

We believe Hannah Crawford Renwick is likely to have been related to the family of Sir Arthur Renwick (1837-1908), physician, philanthropist and politician, who was a notable figure in Sydney society in the second half of the nineteenth century. Sir Arthur’s son, Arthur jnr., was a clergyman who lived on the Central Coast near Brisbane Water for many years, serving as Rector of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Kincumber, 1907-1911, and later as Rector of Christ Church, Gosford until his death in 1927.

The album has the binder’s ticket of Sydney bookseller, stationer and music publisher John William Richard Clarke (son of publisher J. R. Clarke), whose business premises were in the Sydney Market building in George Street. An interesting fact about Clarke in relation to Hannah Renwick’s herbarium as that he is known to have been not only a lover of native flora and fauna but someone who was keenly involved in their protection. Many of his letters on the subject of conservation were published in the New South Wales press between the late 1870s and early 1900s. For example, one letter to the The Maitland Daily Mercury (14 March 1902) begins: ‘For many years I have entertained a great desire to see something done for the preservation of our indigenous animals, birds, flora, trees, and the saltbush, and I have written much on the subject, and have been backed up by others imbued with the same laudable disposition….’