BAILEY, Nathan; [LEICHHARDT, Ludwig, 1813-c.1848]
[LUDWIG LEICHHARDT] The universal etymological English dictionary:
… The second edition, with many additions. London : Thomas Cox, 1731. Thick octavo, contemporary half calf over marbled papered boards (a little worn), the personal copy of the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, his ownership signature in ink ‘L. Leichhardt’ on a binder’s blank at the rear; front free-endpaper with later ownership inscription of Thomas Hughes dated May 6 1856; printed in double columns, illustrated with wood-engraved figures; occasional light staining, but internally sound; housed in a gilt-lettered cloth box.
An artefact with a tangible connection to the Prussian naturalist Ludwig Leichhardt, alongside Burke and Wills one of the most romanticised figures in the history of the exploration by Europeans of the Australian interior in the nineteenth century.
Leichhardt and his party disappeared without trace on his third expedition, which was to be a supremely ambitious attempt to make an east-west crossing of Australia on horseback. After setting out from the Condamine River in March 1848, Leichhardt was last sighted on 3 April at McPherson’s Station, Coogon, on the Darling Downs. His ultimate fate remains a matter of conjecture, and the mystery surrounding it has fueled the fascination that this explorer holds for historians and the public alike. The brass nameplate from Leichhardt’s gun, acquired by the National Museum of Australia in 2006, was reputedly discovered in a boab tree in the vicinity of Sturt Creek, between the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts on the western side of the border between Western Australia and the Northern Territory. This is compelling evidence that Leichhardt did not meet his fate in the Gulf of Carpentaria region, and that remarkably he may have managed to traverse two-thirds of the continent from east to west before he perished.
In 1853 Leichhardt’s possessions, which had been left with James Murphy in Sydney, were given to the Australian Museum. The bulk of his books and manuscripts, which the Museum catalogued in 1881, were later transferred to the Mitchell Library. However, since Leichhardt is known to have lent books to friends, an unknown number of them – including, presumably, The universal etymological English dictionary – would not have been left in James Murphy’s care.
See: Matthew Stephens. From Lost Property to Explorer’s Relics: The rediscovery of the personal library of Ludwig Leichhardt. Historical Records of Australian Science, 2007, Vol. 18, pp. 191-227.