Discoveries from the Richard Travers Collection
I am greatly honoured to be asked to put this exhibition together. It has been hard to pick the hundred or so favourites from a collection of 15,000 titles, but I have chosen those titles I was most pleased to find. To make a dangerous paraphrase of Dryden, there is a pleasure in collecting books, which none but collectors know. My excitement might have come from finding a book by a special author for the first time (such as John Hunter, who was introduced to me by Graeme Schofield); it might have come from finding a book not known to exist (such as Cole's Anatomy), or one known only by title (such as Percy Mole's). It might have come from finally completing a set (such as the Australian Medical Journal). Many of the Australiana items are unique; at least, there are no other known holdings in Australia. Much of the joy comes from collecting ephemeral publications, and here I must acknowledge the great help I have had from Melbourne book dealers, who have kept many of these things aside for me, awaiting my periodic visits.
I first collected books on the history of medicine, encouraged by Dr Frank Forster. He had an unparalleled obstetrics and gynaecology collection, which is now in the appropriate College, housed in a splendid library of his own creation. Soon after this, I started collecting the classic texts of medicine, and here my greatest stimulus was the second-hand department of H K Lewis & Co, Ltd, a medical bookseller in London. Between 1976 and 1979 I spent many happy hours studying the shelves with my bible, Garrison and Morton's bibliography, in hand. What a great way to learn about the development of medicine! For the last 25 years, however, I have concentrated on medical Australiana in its broadest sense, with the encouragement of that doyen of Australian medical history, Dr Bryan Gandevia.
The suggestion to transfer my collection to Monash University came first from Barry Firkin, Professor of Medicine at the Alfred Hospital, and keen medical historian. Richard Overell, the Rare Books librarian, offered me shelf space and now, with the AMA collection and the Ian Goller AIDS collection, Monash University has a remarkably strong holding in the historical and social aspects of medicine. In every great library I have consulted I have found myself the beneficiary of the generosity of previous donors, so I can think of no better place than this one for my own books.
Dr Richard Travers