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Shelden Australian Collection
University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Australia--History--18th-19th centuries; Oceania--History--18th-19th centuries; South Pacific--Discovery and exploration

The collection was established in 1982. It was purchased from Mr. William Leslie Shelden who had created an extensive collection of approximately fifteen hundred printed items and artifacts relating to Australia. It is being expanded by gift and purchase.

The collection includes books, pamphlets, periodicals, maps, and ephemera relating to Australian history, social life, and literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Material on other parts of Oceania is included. The collection is especially strong in eighteenth century narratives of explorers of the South Pacific and nineteenth century accounts by explorers of the interior of the continent. It includes narratives of Canadians who were exiled for participating in the Rebellion of 1837; accounts of colonization and settlement; descriptions of the gold rush of the mid-nineteenth century; and material about indigenous peoples. Creative literature includes early editions of Fergus Hume's The mystery of a hansom cab, and the first edition of Robbery under arms, by Rolf Boldrewood (T.A. Browne). Ephemera includes nineteenth century playbills from Australian theatres. The collection also includes early editions of Captain James Cook's voyages and the first printing of Bligh's voyage in the Resource : from Coupang to Batavia (Golden Cockerel Press, 1937). Future plans are to collect pre-1860 material.


1,500 volumes, pamphlets, maps, periodicals, posters, and ephemera.

Bibliographic Access
Most of the collection is catalogued.

Physical Access
The collection is open to the public with identification. For further information visit:

Interlibrary Loan: No.

Reprography: As the condition of the material warrants, and as the copyright allows.

Reference Assistance: Yes.

Publications Describing Collection
David G. Esplin, 1925-1983: a commemorative exhibition, March 28-May 11, 1984, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. -- Toronto : Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, 1984.