This bibliography is presented in two versions. The online version includes photographs of most of Bent’s imprints, as well as detailed notes on their publication history and social and political context, and links to related resources. The print version is a more conventional listing of Bent’s output, with brief bibliographic descriptions and the location of surviving copies.
A remarkable number of Bent’s titles survive, although copies are extremely rare and consequently valuable. Most are in public collections. Other items which were definitely published are known only from announcements or advertisements in the newspapers. Some were advertised as in contemplation or even ‘in the press’ but fell by the wayside.
Much, but by no means all, of Bent’s output is listed in Ferguson’s Bibliography of Australia but the entries there are scattered. Some items have been described in other publications. As far back as 1952 Professor E. Morris Miller wished for a complete and stand-alone bibliography of Bent’s printing, but until now nobody has taken up the challenge.
The bibliography presented here covers Bent’s work in both Hobart and Sydney, and includes some items not previously described, including his earliest surviving pamphlet from 1815 and a curious little prospectus printed in Sydney not long before his death. Many extra copies of items already in Ferguson have been located. Much interesting detail has been revealed through provenance and marginalia, only some of which can be presented.
Much of Bent’s ephemeral printing such as government notices, handbills and forms has not of course survived, but my research has turned up many previously unlisted examples of early government printing, notably in the Colonial Office papers associated with the Bigge Commission held in the National Archives UK. There are doubtless others still awaiting discovery in Australian and overseas archival collections and possibly in private hands.
A number of Bent’s imprints have been digitized by the holding institutions, and links to these have been provided in the online version.
This bibliography began as a private interest long before I thought of publishing it, so the photographs are of varying quality and some will be progressively upgraded. I am very aware of deficiencies and inconsistencies in recording collations. I have given page dimensions (height x width in cm.) where possible, but in some instances have had to rely on less accurate measurements in library catalogue records and Ferguson entries. I have mostly avoided terminology such as 8vo. as this bibliography is directed to the general reader as much as the specialist bibliographer or collector and I have a limited knowledge of book construction. Similarly, some notes are made about paper, but I have avoided commenting where I am not sure. Some items early in the project were not examined for water marks, so while some are recorded, the absence of a note does not necessarily imply there is not one in the item. Pagination, unless it is complex, is recorded simply as the total number of pages.
I hope that by publishing my research online, visitors to this website will gain an understanding (enriched by the social and political context) of the importance of Bent’s work as a practical printer, and share my delight in tracing his progress from the relatively austere but elegant title pages of his early imprints through to the exuberant display of typographical prowess after 1824.
I welcome comments, including correction of any errors, and in particular any further information about surviving copies and their location.