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Book titled, Field Sports of the Native Inhabitants of New South Wales

2006.0013.0001

Book titled, Field Sports of the Native Inhabitants of New South Wales

Object information

Physical description

A book titled "FIELD SPORTS / &c. &c. / of / the Native Inhabitants of NEW SOUTH WALES / with ten plates / BY THE AUTHOR". It was published in London in 1813, by Edward Orme, Bond Street and printed by J F Dove of St John's Square in Clerkenwell. The cover is a blue marbeled colour with a brown spine and corners.

Statement of significance

Field Sports &c &c of the Native Inhabitants of New South Wales is a volume of ten colour aquatint plates depicting scenes of Australian Aboriginal life (hunting and ceremonies) and eighteen pages of text presented as short essays. Published in London in 1813, it was the first book devoted solely to the Aboriginal people of Australia. (The images and essays were also printed as the NSW supplement in the 100 plate book, Foreign Field Sports, Fisheries, Sporting Anecdotes etc, 1814.) The artist was John Heaviside Clark, later known as "Waterloo Clark" for his depictions of Wellington's triumph in 1815. The publisher was Edward Orme and the printer J.F. Dove. The ten aquatint images have been rebound in half calf with marbled boards, spine gilt, with 18 pages of text. The dedication to Rear Admiral Bligh connects the volume to the NSW political history.

Clark's volume of prints was published in 1813 in the same year as James Cowles Prichard's influential book Researches into the physical history of mankind. Prichard's book is now seen as an early contribution to the embryonic discipline of anthropology and was highly influential for a generation. Pritchard wrote that Australians were the "rudest and most destitute savages found on the face of the globe." It was a view that was frequently repeated by others but did not carry the particularly virulent racial overtones that developed later in the nineteenth century as arguments hardened over slavery and as physical anthropology and medical dissection grew as disciplines. The significance of the images is manifold. One important interpretation is that the depiction of Australian Aboriginal people as nomads, hunter-gatherers, helped sustain the 1770 and 1788 acts of possession by the Crown. British notions of property rights turned on the central idea of transforming the soil by agriculture or pastoralism, most powerfully expressed in John Locke's Second Treatise on Government.

Object information

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