Rare book about Eureka Stockade could fetch $25,000

Auctioneer Harry Glenn with the copy of The Eureka Stockade at Mossgreen in Melbourne. PICTURE: SIMON SCHLUTER
Auctioneer Harry Glenn with the copy of The Eureka Stockade at Mossgreen in Melbourne. PICTURE: SIMON SCHLUTER

A FIRST edition book giving an eye-witness account of the Eureka Stockade and the events leading to the uprising will be auctioned next month.

Mossgreen auctioneer and valuer Harry Glenn said the book, which came from a private collection in Ballarat, could sell for as much as $25,000.

An excerpt from the book from is published below

The Eureka Stockade was written by Raffaello Carboni, an Italian adventurer who travelled to Australia in the 1850s in search of gold and joined the miners' uprising in Ballarat.

"It's an exceptionally rare book. It was published the year after Carboni got out of jail, as he was charged with high treason," said Mr Glenn.

"He couldn't find a place to publish it, so he published it himself."

Mr Glenn said there weren't many copies of the book, and many were given away and not sold.

"It (this copy) has been passed down through the family with a Roman Missal version of a Bible, signed and dated by Anastasia Hayes," Mr Glenn said.

"It is reported Carboni gave this book directly to Anastasia Hayes."

Anastasia Hayes is believed to be one of the women who sewed the Eureka Flag.

It's one of the only first-hand accounts of the rebellion. He was there in a miners' hut, observing it from the chimney

Mr Glenn said the last available first edition of the book known to him sold for $18,000, and that copy wasn't connected to anyone significant.

"There is one for sale online at the moment, for $12,000 to $13,000, but it is in worse condition than this one.

"We're expecting it to go from anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, but it depends on who's interested on the day."

He said it was likely it would go to an institution or a particularly enthusiastic collector.

"It's one of the only first-hand accounts of the rebellion," he said.

"He was there in a miners' hut, observing it from the chimney."

Carboni fought in the Garibaldian revolutionary wars in Italy during the 1840s before coming to Australia.

The book will be auctioned as part of the Australian and Colonial History Sale by Mossgreen on June 3.

Mr Glenn said there were other Ballarat items in the sale, including a collection of police photographs on the Piggoreet murders from 1867, local advertisements and other pieces.

Excerpt from The Eureka Stockade:


I awoke. Sunday morning. It was full dawn, not daylight. A discharge of musketry – then a round from the bugle – the command "forward" – and another discharge of musketry was sharply kept on by the red-coats (some 300 strong) advancing on the gully west of the stockade, for a couple of minutes.

The shots whizzed by my tent. I jumped out of the stretcher and rushed to my chimney facing the stockade. The forces within could not muster above 150 diggers.

The shepherds' holes inside the lower part of the stockade had been turned into rifle pits, and were now occupied by Californians of the I. C. Rangers' Brigade, some twenty or thirty in all, who had kept watch at the "outposts" during the night.

Ross and his division northward, Thonen and his division southward, and both in front of the gully, under cover of the slabs, answered with such a smart fire, that the military who were now fully within range did unmistakably appear to me to swerve from the ground: anyhow the command "forward" from Sergeant Harris was put a stop to. Here a lad was really courageous with his bugle. He took up boldly his stand to the left of the gully and in front: the red-coats "fell in" in their ranks to the right of this lad. The wounded on the ground behind must have numbered a dozen.

Another scene was going on east of the stockade. Vern floundered across the stockade eastward, and I lost sight of him.  Curtain whilst making coolly for the holes, appeared to me to give directions to shoot at Vern; but a rush was instantly made in the same direction (Vern's) and a whole pack cut for Warrenheip.

Ross was shot in the groin. Another shot struck Thonen exactly in the mouth, and felled him on the spot

There was, however, a brave American officer, who had the command of the rifle-pit men; he fought like a tiger; was shot in his thigh at the very onset, and yet, though hopping all the while, stuck to Captain Ross like a man. Should this notice be the means to ascertain his name, it should be written down in the margin at once.

The dragoons from south, the troopers from north, were trotting in full speed towards the stockade.

Peter Lalor, was now on the top of the first logged-up hole within the stockade, and by his decided gestures pointed to the men to retire among the holes. He was shot down in his left shoulder at this identical moment: it was a chance shot, I recollect it well.

A full discharge of musketry from the military, now mowed down all who had their heads above the barricades.

Ross was shot in the groin. Another shot struck Thonen exactly in the mouth, and felled him on the spot.

Those who suffered the most were the score of pikemen, who stood their ground from the time the whole division had been posted at the top, facing the Melbourne road from Ballaarat, in double file under the slabs, to stick the cavalry with their pikes.

The old command, "Charge!" was distinctly heard, and the red-coats rushed with fixed bayonets to storm the stockade. A few cuts, kicks and pulling down, and the job was done too quickly for their wanton ardour, for they actually thrust their bayonets on the body of the dead and wounded strewed about on the ground. A wild "hurrah!" burst out and "the Southern Cross" was torn down, I should say, among their laughter, such as if it had been a prize from a May-pole.

Of the armed diggers, some made off the best way they could, others surrendered themselves prisoners, and were collected in groups and marched down the gully. The Indian dragoons, sword in hand, rifle-pistols cocked, took charge of them all, and brought them in chains to the lock-up.


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