Designated seats are usually reserved for human travellers but a rare copy of Shakespeare’s first folio has taken a flight from Sydney to Brisbane safely buckled up.
In celebration of Queensland Day — the day the sunshine state became a self-governing colony — the NSW State Library has loaned the rare book to the Queensland State Library.
Escorted by Maggie Patton, the manager of research and discovery at the NSW library, the precious book was in Queensland for Tuesday only.
And it is in remarkably good condition for a book that is 394 years old.
“It has been rebound in the 1880s. It would have been an original calfskin, but inside the papers are very clean, very white — a paper-based cloth,” she said.
Along with its own plane seat, the folio travels with its own pillow that has been designed to protect the binding and the spine.
The original print run of 750 copies was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death.
Only 235 copies are known to have survived and this is the only copy in Australia.
Ms Patton said it was not only the age of the book that was significant.
“It’s the first time Shakespeare’s plays were printed in one volume and 18 of those 36 plays had never been printed before,” she said.
“It’s highly likely if they hadn’t been printed they would have been lost. But it’s also important because it’s a fantastic example of publishing and printing in the early 17th century.”
Staff at the State Library of Queensland have been looking forward to its arrival and it was greeted with intrigue.
Senior conservator Rachel Spano said there was interest in how the historic book had been bound.
“As conservators, we like materials and the paper, what the paper quality is like,” she said.
“All the intricacies around that and also the wonderful history of it and it’s such an important piece of literature.”
While the book is in Queensland it will be stored under tight security in a climate-controlled environment, just like home, where it will return tomorrow.