The Ion Idriess estate auction was part of a larger auction by Sydney Rare Book Auction through Invaluable - see the ad for this in Buy and Sell section here. I think Paul Feain and Ellie Aroney were the main auctioneers - but I could be wrong as I came in late and didn't catch all of it - it was a long day! Apart from eBay auctions, I hadn't been part of an on-line auction before. Mostly I listened and hit the button to bid - but you had to be quick and it was better - as I found out towards the end - to view onscreen as well. But a couple of my pre-determined bids - up to a certain amount - actually won without me having to bid at the time.
From my point of view there were many items in this auction that were exceptional one-off pieces for any Ion Idriess collector: books, letters and ephemora (I love that word!) etc., owned by Idriess, signed by Idriess, given to Idriess, dedicated to Idriess, written by Idriess, etc.. I missed out on some early lots, such as some books dedicated by EV Timms (the prolific Australian author of about Idriess's era) - and others - to Idriess and a postcard to Idriess signed by Margaret Whitlam that went for $60 (but on-line there was a 25% buyers premium to be added as well to lots bought!). And at the end of the auction (it didn't finish until late in the day after starting at 10:30am AEDST - 7:30am for me here in Perth), there were a number of Idriess items that finished with a flourish - many of them far exceeding the estimated sale price.
Some bead head-bands personally made by Nemarluk (as in the Nemarluk who features in Idriess's 1941 book Nemarluk as well as in his earlier work Man Tracks (1935)) went for far more than my meagre budget allowed - but they may be the only extant objects made by that man himself. Original artwork for the covers of books such as The Silent Service, The Wild North and The Yellow Joss again exceeded the estimates (they went for several hundred dollars each), but it would be very cool to own such a piece. Unused dustcovers for various editions also went for a goodly amount, as did original photos of Idriess (I bid for some of these, but they quickly went out of my league!). Original photos from Lasseter's Last Ride topped $3,600. I would have loved to get the original telegram dated 13/4/27 from A & R addressed to Idriess on Thursday Island re his first book, the 1927 Madman's Island - but others loved it more - and had more money!
But my bids succeeded on some lots and I was happy with what I got. I got first editions of Forty Fathoms Deep (no DJ) and Horrie the Wog Dog (yes, in a DJ - a couple of tears, but still GC!) for only $60. This site values these books at $50 - $100 and $200 - $350 respectively! Everyone else must have knocked off for lunch or dinner when these were put up. Also, just for the heck of it, I got a French edition (1954) of In Crocodile Land for only $10. The French title is Au Royaume Des Crocodiles which I think translates as "The Kingdom of the Crocodiles". It is SC with a DJ, and on the back of the jacket it gives a blurb about Idriess and has the price of the book - 590 Francs. The blurb gives the 20 September, 1890 date for Idriess's birth (a la Feain and Aroney: Bev Eley, Wikipedia, ADB and Idriess.info have 1889). It also mentions that Idriess studied at the School of Mines, was a prospector, his travels around northern Australia, his war service and some of his works (quoted in English) such as The desert column (No capitals?), Men of the Jungle (this got capitals!) and something called The cattle Kay (maybe it got lost in translation?). There were as well some other non-English Idriess in Dutch and French in the auction - some of which got passed in, but a translation into Croatian was hotly bid for.
One of the best lots I acquired - I reckon, anyway - was a bundle of 6 books that were given to Idriess, mostly by notable authors, signed and inscribed by them to him. These were a 1st edition (1963, DJ) of We, The Aborigines by Douglas Lockwood (I have collected a few Lockwood's). In the inscription he calls Jack his "old bush mate" and it is signed and dated Darwin 1963. Another is by Idriess's contemporary at A & R and also a prolific author - Frank Clune - Captain Bully Hayes: Blackbirder and Bigamist (1st edition 1970, DJ). Frank writes, "For my cobber 'Jack' Idriess. No Bully Hayes, but a decent bloke, even if he is a bigamist." Which is probably a dig at Idriess's marital relationships; and in comparison to Bully Hayes who was apparently a bigamist. It is signed by Clune with his full name (Francis Patrick Clune) and indicates it was written on his (Clune's) birthday (27/11/70) and that this (Bully Hayes) was his 67th 'yarn'. Clune would die less than 4 months later (11/03/71).
Isles of the Sun by Charles Barrett (1st edition, 1954) has an inscription which states, "Mobs of good wishes for Australia's No. One author from the old man - Charles Barrett. 13/9/54." High praise indeed for Idriess! It is signed again on the title page: "Charles Barrett to Ion Idriess." Barrett is also collectable. Then there is a 1st edition (1959) book called Yandy by Donald Stuart, which tells the story of the 1946 aboriginal stockmen's strike led? by Don McLeod. Stuart calls Ion "old trooper". And finally a couple of books sent to Idriess by a lady from NZ, Mrs E. Landon-Phelps, "wishing you to know a little about our New Zealand": Old New Zealand by A Pakeha Maori (F. E. Maning, no date - 1906?, DJ) and Tales of the Maori Border by James Cowan (SC, no DJ, 1944).
I did pick up some other non-Idriess items for a reasonable price - I thought - at this auction and the whole lot arrived in a box after Christmas, so that was nice. All-in-all, a worthwhile auction and I think many, including me, scored some rare, valuable and very collectible Idriess items.