London: The Field Press, 1920. First edition. Large quarto, original blue cloth with gilt lettering and crest to the front board; unpaginated preliminary leaves comprise the colour ornamental title-page, a photogravure portrait of C. Alma Baker and a further decorated leaf, followed by single leaf listing contents and plates; then 148 continuously paginated letterpress leaves with 52 photogravure plates throughout. Externally the book is moderately sunned and flecked, front joint starting, one corner of the boards bumped, yet internally it is fresh and excellent. The top edge of the pages is gilt and other edges remain uncut, tissue guards extant for the plates. Item #349
One of the most lavish and desirable books on the history of Australia and First World War aviation. In the introduction, plantation owner and agriculturalist Alma Baker writes: ‘during my visit to Australia in the early part of 1916, I came to the conclusion that there were many people living in the Commonwealth who, unable to go the front themselves, would be glad to subscribe towards battleplanes to represent them in the firing-line if an individual appeal be made.’
And so began the bold plan of gifting aeroplanes from Australia and Malaya for use in the European war. This book is a lavishly printed souvenir for presentation to donors and dignitaries. It lists the aeroplanes, typically costing some £2,700 apiece, along with their donors, including great Australians such as graziers Sidney Kidman and Henry White of Belltrees (who both respectively paid for two aeroplanes). Some were funded collectively, for example the citizens of both the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland separately raised the funds for aeroplanes. Each of the Australian gifts is illustrated in 21 fine photogravure plates.
A more detailed account of the practical and strategic use of the Australian and Malayan gifted aeroplanes is provided in a chapter of some 30 pages by Lieutenant-Colonel Boyd Cable of the Royal Air Force. This is followed by description and illustration of the Malayan effort.
Significantly, this copy includes a single letterpress sheet by C. Alma Baker drop-titled ‘Carry On’, warning of the dangers of complacency, the danger of further German aggression and the need for vast British capital investment in aeronautics. Prophetic words indeed.
Price (AUD): $1,200.00