WHAT ABOUT RECOGNISING EARLY COLLECTORS? HERE IS A MAN WITH A STORY SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR TO MODERN COLLECTORS. William Bednall was a printer, newspaper man and collector of many types of things including sea shells (in a serious way). You have to read to the end to see a reference to his ephemeral tendencies.
From Every Week (Melbourne) 19 August 1915.
Death of a Scientist
On Saturday, July 25, the death took place in Adelaide of Mr William Tompson Bednall, aged 78 years.
He arrived in Adelaide with his mother in the barque Ann Holzberg, in August,1853, and three months later obtained employment in the offices of the ‘The Register’ in Hindley Street. Later he was apprenticed to Mr W. Kyffin Thomas to learn the business of a printer. On completion of his indentures he travelled in South Australia and Victoria and afterwards was engaged in the Government Printing Office at Adelaide for 12 years. In 1874 he accepted the management of the Northern Territory Times at Darwin, and edited that paper after the departure of Mr Wells, in the ill-fated steamer Gothenburg. He returned to Adelaide in 1876, and soon became one of the sub-editors of The Register. In June, 1881, he was transferred to the management of The Register general printing department, a position which he relinquished in 1908. Two years later he retired from active business.
Mr Bednall was a man of eminently loveable disposition, and highly respected by all who came into contact with him. His bent was essentially in a scientific direction. He was deeply interested in geology, paleontology, conchology, and heraldry, and in the last-mentioned subjects was one of the high authorities— if, not, indeed, the highest authority— in Australia.
At various times he published articles on conchology, and he was the hon. curator in that branch of science to the South Australian Museum, which institution he served until recently. During an appointment in his young manhood at Darwin he had excellent opportunities to obtain rare and exquisite specimens of shells, and gathered together then, and subsequently, an exceedingly valuable collection. Two specimens which he found in the Northern Territory proved to be unique — a Voluta and a Murex, and they were named the Bednalli and the M. Bednalli respectively. The first one remained a solitary specimen for 20 years, and at the present time not a dozen are known to be in existence. Both shells have been illustrated in most of the conchological catalogues of the world. Mr Bednall took great pride in the discoveries, and the shells were afterwards depicted on the bookplate which adorned his treasured volumes.
In heraldic knowledge, Mr Bednall had scarcely a peer in the Commonwealth. Among the uses to which his information on this ancient science was put was the designing of coats of arms for various gentlemen in the Commonwealth.
The deceased was an enthusiastic collector of curious typographical works, pamphlets, and engravings. Among his valuable collection of book plates — the result of constant correspondence with the leading authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States was the bookplate of Queen Victoria and other examples of exceeding rarity.