The work of the Fine Private Presses is always a labour of love, as well as an art. Often these presses are quite personal endeavours, involving the private passions and obsessions of their creators. The same could be said for Brindabella Press, one of the few fine art private presses in Australia, Canberra. Instituted by the lifelong bibliophile, librarian and publisher Alec Bolton and his wife, the highly esteemed poet Rosemary Dobson (Bolton). At a time when computer and digital printing were beginning to take over even from mechanical printing, the Bolton’s decided to turn their passions for the hand-pressed and hand-composited page into a reality.
The Brindabella Press never produced a vast array of books, but those that it did are well thought of as an important addition to the history of the private presses south of the equator. It is perhaps encouraging that Brindabella didn’t pursue international sales, as it allowed them the freedom to produce works which they really believed in.
For the collector, the essential volumes to be interested in would be the various collected works of Dobsonian poetry (Greek Coins, and Untold Lives) as well as the very first printed and distributed book; Starting from Central Station by fellow poet David Campbell.
Greek Coins (1977) by Rosemary Dobson herself can be found at very cheap prices, even signed – which would only set you back some $150-200, A wonderful introduction to Dobson’s work, as well as a piece of actual Dobson history. Untold Lives (1992) on the other hand is one of the last publications of Brindabella, and, given the nearness of her death in just another ten years’ time, perhaps a poignant memorial and epitaph to the great poet. Untold Lives, with original woodcuts by artist Mike Hudson is available for around $150.
But Brindabella was not solely the province of Dobson, and Starting from Central Station (1973), a sequence of poems by David Campbell, can be found in fine condition for only $350.
Campbell, David. Starting From Central Station. Brindabella Press (1973). A Sequence Of Poems; Illustrated by William Huff-Johnston; 220 copies, signed by David Campbell
Brissenden, R. F.. Elegies. Brindabella Press (1974). Nine Poems; Drawings By Robin Wallace-Crabbe; 310 numbered copies, signed by the poet and artist
Rowland, J.R. Times And Places. Brindabella Press (1975). Poems Of Locality; 230 Copies, Signed And Numbered By The Author And Publisher; Illustrated with drawings by the author
Dobson, Rosemary. Greek Coins. Brindabella Press (1977). A Sequence Of Poems With Line Drawings By The Author; 240 numbered copies signed by author
Stewart, Harold. The Exiled Immortal. Brindabella Press (1980). A Song-Cycle; 240 numbered copies signed by the author
Neilson, Shaw. Some Poems Of Shaw Neilson. Brindabella Press (1985). Selected And With Wood-Engravings By Barbara Hanrahan; 230 copies numbered and signed by the artist.
Stead, Christina. The Palace With Several Sides. Brindabella Press (1986). A Sort Of Love Story; Edited By R. G. Geering; Wood Engravings By Mike Hudson; 220 copies hand-printed on Basingwerk Parchment by A. T. Bolton - bound in several papers by Robin Tait
Page, Geoff. Smiling In English, Smoking In French. Brindabella Press (1987). A Journal (Of Travel Poems); Drawings by C.P. von Haldenburg; Hand-bound by Ron Eadie with blue ribbon threaded through grey cover paper, printed in three colours; 260 numbered copies signed by the author
Hanrahan, Barbara.. Iris In Her Garden. Brindabella Press (1991). Eight Stories; With Relief Etchings By The Author; 250 copies signed by the author
Dobson, Rosemary. Untold Lives. Brindabella Press (1992). A Sequence Of Poems. With A Wood Engraving, "Breakaway" By Mike Hudson; 240 copies signed by Dobson and Allec Bolton, the publisher; Twenty-six poems