Historical information

The Work “The Birds of Australia; containing over 300 full-page illustrations, with a descriptive account of the life and characteristic habits of over 700 species” by Gracius J. [Joseph] Broinowski – Australian author, artist and ornithologist - was created in 40 parts for subscribers and sold for 10s [shillings]., These parts were later published in six volumes, which were later published and bound in pairs to make three volumes, each of which contain two of the six original volumes, numbered volumes, “I”, “III” and “V” on their fly page, but numbered “Vols. I-II”, “Vols. III-IV” and “Vols. V-VI” on their respective spines. The volumes were all published by Charles Stuart & Co. (Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, New Zealand, and Tasmania). All of the beautifully drawn and coloured illustrations in The Birds of Australia were illustrated by Broinowski. They were printed using a new 19th century method called chromolithography. This is the art of making multi-coloured prints. The skilled lithographer would work from an original coloured painting and create a copy for every one of the many layers of colour used to build the painting. These layers were then printed carefully over each other to re-build the picture. Gracius J. Broinowski’s Work “The Birds of Australia” was described by Jean.Anker as “a semi-popular but comprehensive treatment of the subject” in the book “Bird Books and Bird Art: an outline of the Literary History and Iconology of Descriptive Ornithology” 1979. It may be that these books were donated to, or ordered specifically for, the Warrnambool Public Museum, due to the embossing on the spine “WARRNAMBOOL PUBLIC LIBRARY”. The acquisition of these books would most likely to have made 1891-1910, between the date the books were published and the date that the Museum amalgamated with the Mechanics Institute, which then became part of The Museum and Art Gallery. These three books were part of the collection of books belonging to the Warrnambool Public Museum, established 1873 by Joseph Archibald. The Museum moved into the back of the Mechanics’ Institute in 1885, along with the Art Gallery and School of Dancing. In 1886 it was officially opened as The Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery, with Joseph Archibald as its curator. In 1887 the Museum section was moved to the former court house in Timor Street, with Joseph Archibald as Curator until 1897. In 1910 the Museum was transferred back to the original building and the management of the Mechanics' Institute was handed over to the Warrnambool City Council. In 1935 Ralph Pattison was appointed as City Librarian. He developed his own sorting and cataloguing system and organised the collection of books accordingly. In the 1960’s the Warrnambool City Council closed down the Museum and Art Gallery and the books and artefacts were redistributed to other organisations in Warrnambool. Each spine of this book set, The Birds of Australia by Gracius Broinowski, shows a space on which a previous cataloguing label may have been affixed. The volumes are amongst the many books at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village that display stamps and markings from Pattison as well as a variety of other institutions including the Mechanics’ Institute itself. Some other Australian Libraries also include these books in their collections; Australian National University, University of NSW, University of Western Australia, State Library of Western Australia, Deakin University, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, University of Adelaide, University of Queensland, University of Tasmania. The Library of Congress and the University of British Columbia also have sets of these volumes. These books are considered as Rare Book; a set of Broinowski’s 3 volumes was advertised in Melbourne’s Rare Book Fair 2012, “for ornithological collectors”. (See the more detailed information below in “Warrnambool Public Museum and Mechanics Institute” and the “Pattison Collection”.) GRACIUS JOSEP BROINOWSKI Gracius Joseph Broinowski (7/3/1837 – 11/4/1913), artist and ornithologist, was born in Walichnowy, Poland, son of a landowner and military officer of the same name. He was educated privately then later, at the Munich University, he was a student of languages, classics and art. To avoid conscription into the Russian army, he migrated to Germany. At the age of about 20 years he migrated to Portland (Victoria, Australia), working his passage as part of the crew of a windjammer. Broinowski worked in the country for a few years then found employment working for a Melbourne publisher and later sold his own paintings. In about 1863, while on one of his many travels in eastern Australia painting landscapes and scenes, he married Jane Smith in Richmond, Victoria (her father was captain of a whaler). In 1880 he settled in Sydney where his work involved teaching painting, lecturing on art and exhibiting his own work at showings of the Royal Art Society. Also in the 1880s he began to publish illustrated works on Australian natural history, including; - illustrations of the birds and mammals of Australia, commissioned by the Department of Public Instruction, New South Wales, and mounted, varnished and hung on walls in many classrooms - "The Birds and Mammals of Australia"; a bound collection of illustrations with appropriated text - 1888 "The Cockatoos and Nestors of Australia and New Zealand" - 1890-1891, "The Birds of Australia" Broinowski died in 1913 at Mosman, Sydney, survived by his wife, six sons and a daughter. His son, Leopold, became a significant political journalist in Tasmania. WARRNAMBOOL PUBLIC MUSEUM & MECHANICS INSTITUTE Warrnambool's Mechanics' Institute (or Institution as it was sometimes called) was one of the earliest in Victoria. On 17th October 1853 a meeting was held where it was resolved to request the Lieutenant Governor of the Colony to grant land for the erection of a Mechanics' Institutes building. A committee was formed at the meeting and Richard Osburne chaired the first meeting of this committee. The land on the North West corner of Banyan and Merri Streets was granted but there were no funds to erect the building. The Formal Rights of the Warrnambool Mechanics' Institute's encompassed its aims and these were officially adopted in1859; "This Institution has for its object the diffusion of literary, scientific, and other useful knowledge amongst its members, excluding all controversial subjects, religious or political. These objects are sought to be obtained by means of a circulating library, a reading room, the establishment of classes, debates, and the occasional delivery of lectures on natural and experimental philosophy, mechanics, astronomy, chemistry, natural history, literature, and the useful and ornamental arts, particularly those which have a more immediate reference to the colony." The Warrnambool Mechanics' Institute opened its first reading room in December 1854 in the National School building at the corner of Banyan and Timor Streets. The Institute was funded by member subscription, payable on a quarterly, half yearly or yearly basis. Samuel Hannaford, the Manager of the Warrnambool Bank of Australasia, was the first Honorary Secretary of the Mechanics' Institutes, and an early President and Vice-President. He also gave several of the early lectures in the Reading Room. Another early Secretary, Librarian and lecturer was Marmaduke Fisher, the teacher at the National School. Lecture topics included The Poets and Poetry of Ireland', 'The Birth and Development of the Earth', 'The Vertebrae - with Remarks on the pleasures resulting from the study of Natural History' and 'Architecture'. In 1856 the Reading Room was moved to James Hider's shop in Timor Street, and by 1864 it was located in the bookshop of Davies and Read. In the 1860's the Mechanics' Institute struggled as membership waned but in 1866, after a series of fund raising efforts, the committee was able to purchase land in Liebig Street, on a site then called Market Square, between the weighbridge and the fire station. A Mechanics' Institute building was opened at this site in August 1871. The following year four more rooms were added to the main Reading Room and in 1873 the Artisan School of Design was incorporated into the Institute. The same year, 1873, Joseph Archibald established the Warrnambool Public Museum [Warrnambool Museum], however it deteriorated when he was transferred to Bendigo in 1877. In 1880, with Archibald's return to Warrnambool, the Museum was re-established and he served as Curator 1882-1897. In 1885 a new building was added to the back of the Mechanics’ Institute to accommodate the re-created School of Design, the Art Gallery and the Museum. It was officially opened as the Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery on 26th July 1886 with Mr Joseph Archibald as Curator. In 1887 the Museum section was moved to the former court house in Timor Street (for some time the walls of the building formed part of the TAFE cafeteria but all is now demolished). In 1910 the Museum was transferred back to the original building and the management of the Mechanics' Institute was handed over to the Warrnambool City Council. The Museum and Art Gallery became one and housed many fine works of art, and the Library continued to grow. The building was well patronised, with records showing that at the beginning of the 20th century there were between 500 and 800 visitors. During World War One the monthly figures were in the thousands, with 3,400 people visiting in January 1915. The Museum was a much loved Institution in Warrnambool until 1963 when the Museum and Art Gallery was closed and the contents removed to make room for the Warrnambool City Council Engineers' Department. The contents were stored but many of the items were scattered or lost. The Museum has never been re-opened. When the original building was demolished the site became occupied by the Civic Centre, which included the new City Library. (The library was temporarily located in the old Palais building in Koroit Street.) In the process of reorganisation the Collection was distributed amongst the community groups: -The new City Library took some of the historic books and some important documents, historic photographs and newspapers. -The Art Gallery kept the 19th Century art collection and some of the artefacts from the museum. -The Historic Society has some items -The State Museum has some items -Some items were destroyed -Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village has old newspapers, Government Gazettes, most of the Mechanics' Institute Library (which included books from the Warrnambool Public Museum), ledgers and documents connected to the Mechanics' Institute Library, some framed and unframed art works and some photographs. THE PATTISON COLLECTION These books “The Birds of Australia” by Broinowsky, are also listed as part of the ‘Pattison Collection’, a collection of books and records that was originally owned by the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute, which was founded in Warrnambool in 1853. In 1935 Ralph Pattison was appointed as City Librarian to establish and organise the Warrnambool Library, as the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute was then called. When the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute building was pulled down in 1963 a new civic building was erected on the site and the new Warrnambool Library, on behalf of the City Council, took over all the holdings of the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute. At this time some of the items were separated and identified as the ‘Pattison Collection’, named after Ralph Pattison. Eventually the components of the Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute were distributed from the Warrnambool Library to various places, including the Art Gallery, Historical Society and Flagstaff Hill. Later some were even distributed to other regional branches of Corangamite Regional Library and passed to and fro. It is difficult now to trace just where all of the items have ended up. The books at Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village generally display stamps and markings from Pattison as well as a variety of other institutions including the Mechanics’ Institute itself. RALPH ERIC PATTISON Ralph Eric Pattison was born in Rockhampton, Queensland, in 1891. He married Maude Swan from Warrnambool in 1920 and they set up home in Warrnambool. In 1935 Pattison accepted a position as City Librarian for the Warrnambool City Council. His huge challenge was to make a functional library within two rooms of the Mechanics’ Institute. He tirelessly cleaned, cleared and sorted a disarrayed collection of old books, jars of preserved specimens and other items reserved for exhibition in the city’s museum. He developed and updated the library with a wide variety of books for all tastes, including reference books for students; a difficult task to fulfil during the years following the Depression. He converted all of the lower area of the building into a library, reference room and reading room for members and the public. The books were sorted and stored using a cataloguing and card index system that he had developed himself. He also prepared the upper floor of the building and established the Art Gallery and later the Museum, a place to exhibit the many old relics that had been stored for years for this purpose. One of the treasures he found was a beautiful ancient clock, which he repaired, restored and enjoyed using in his office during the years of his service there. Ralph Pattison was described as “a meticulous gentleman whose punctuality, floorless courtesy and distinctive neat dress were hallmarks of his character, and ‘his’ clock controlled his daily routine, and his opening and closing of the library’s large heavy doors to the minute.” Pattison took leave during 1942 to 1945 to serve in the Royal Australian Navy, Volunteer Reserve as Lieutenant. A few years later he converted one of the Museum’s rooms into a Children’s Library, stocking it with suitable books for the younger generation. This was an instant success. In the 1950’s he had the honour of being appointed to the Victorian Library Board and received more inspiration from the monthly conferences in Melbourne. He was sadly retired in 1959 after over 23 years of service, due to the fact that he had gone over the working age of council officers. However he continued to take a very keen interest in the continual development of the Library until his death in 1969. References: Archibald Street, Discover the History of Warrnambool Streets, https://www.warrnambool.vic.gov.au/sites/warrnambool.vic.gov.au/files/images/Property/roads/The%20story%20of%20Warrnambool's%20streets.pdf Broinowski, Bird Books and Bird Art etc, Jean Anker 1979, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=B5TpCAAAQBAJ&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=the+birds+of+australia,+broinowski,+bird+books+and+bird+art&source=bl&ots=nQroxqePdY&sig=a3lnn-_FqB-ZcFAwqRYVK6Y7ZeM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj5sL7-2JTSAhWIyLwKHaCHAJcQ6AEIUTAN#v=onepage&q=the%20birds%20of%20australia%2C%20broinowski%2C%20bird%20books%20and%20bird%20art&f=false Broinowski, Gracius Joseph, by A.H. Chisholm, Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/broinowski-gracius-joseph-3061 Chromolithography, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromolithography Document, Flagstaff Hill, ‘Mechanics’ Institute Collection’: Books on Dean, Melbourne Rare Book Fare 2015, BookFare Newsletter #5, www.anzaab.com/newsletters/BookFare_1207.pdf Flagstaff Hill archives; document “Re: Ralph Eric Pattison”] Gracius Broinowski, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gracius_Broinowski Gracius Joseph Broinowski, Design & Art Australia online, https://www.daao.org.au/bio/gracius-joseph-broinowski/biography/ Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria Pg ix, 283; Significance Assessment, Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute Books, FHMV, 2010 The Birds of Australia by Gracius J. Broinowski, Libraries of Australia, Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/12425131?q&sort=holdings+desc&_=1487246530281&versionId=210683608 The Birds of Australia, Broinowski; www.Librarything.com The History of Warrnambool, R. Osburne, 1887, p.72, p. 283 The Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute – FHMV datasheet Warrnambool Art Gallery History, Warrnambool Art Gallery Foundation Information Booklet, http://www.wagf.com.au/cms/downloads/WAGF-Information-Booklet.pdf Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery, The Argus, 29th July 1886 Web; The Birds of Australia (Broinowski), Wikipedia


The Birds of Australia by Gracius J. Broinowski is a respected source of scientific information. It is also significant for its rarity and as an early Australian Work. The book is significant for its association with the Warrnambool Public Museum, which played an important educational and social role in the early settlement of Warrnambool and District. The book is also significant for its association with the Warrnambool Mechanics' Institute Library book collection, which is deemed to be of great importance because it is one of the few collections in an almost intact state, and many of the books are now very rare and of great value. The Warrnambool Mechanics’ Institute Collection is primarily significant in its totality, rather than for the individual objects it contains. Its contents are highly representative of the development of Mechanics' Institute libraries across Australia, particularly Victoria. A diversity of publications and themes has been amassed, and these provide clues to our understanding of the nature of and changes in the reading habits of Victorians from the 1850s to the middle of the 20th century. The Warrnambool Mechanics Institute book collection has historical and social significance for its strong association with the Mechanics Institute movement and the important role it played in the intellectual, cultural and social development of people throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. The collection of books is a rare example of an early lending library and its significance is enhanced by the survival of an original collection of many volumes. The collection also highlights the Warrnambool community’s commitment to the Mechanics’ Institute, reading, literacy and learning in the regions, and proves that access to knowledge was not impeded by distance. These items help to provide a more complete picture of our community’s ideals and aspirations. The book is also significant for its inclusion in the Pattison Collection, a collection that as a whole shows a snapshot of the types of reading material offered to the local public at that point in time.

Physical description

The Birds of Australia Vol 3 - 4 Author and Illustrator: Gracius J Broinowski Publisher: Charles Stuart & Co Date: 1890

Inscriptions & markings

Label on spine cover with typed text RA 598.2 BRO Pastedown front endpaper has sticker from Warrnambool Mechanics Institute and Free Library Embossing added to spine “WARRNAMBOOL PUBLIC MUSEUM”