From rare 19th Century cabinet photographs and books to a stump signed by Don Bradman and his 1948 Invincibles, Ken Piesse from cricketbooks.com.au has handled some of Australian cricket’s most priceless collectibles.
His cricket library is large and varied from books and ephemera to cigarette and trade cards, but he says few can afford to keep everything they collect.
Ken is noted for his writings and has several limited edition books in planning including a biography of the colourful Cec Pepper, maybe the finest cricketer never to represent Australia, for a 2018 publication.
‘Producing even 100 or 125 copies of a book like this is expensive and very much a labor of love and for me can be funded only by sharing some of the lovely collectibles with others,’ he says. ‘It means others get to enjoy them too.’
Ken’s passion for photographs saw the publication last year of a Pictorial History of Australian Test Cricket, rated the Australian cricket book of the year by cricketweb.net
In October he is releasing Heroes of the Hour, Australian cricket’s quintessential moments from Bradman and Lillee to Warnie and Steve Smith. It again has many wonderful, little known images, many of which came from the library of Gordon Vidler, one of Australia’s most passionate cricket collectors, from Casino in country New South Wales.
‘Gordon was so generous in sharing images with me and after he passed his family was in contact. They didn’t throw out a thing, bless them, and there were treasures at every turning. From Walkers Studio’s originals to Don Bradman posters and books like Bodywhine to the 1924-25 editions of the Australian Cricketer magazine, there were 100s of items I’d herd about but had never seen. And almost all were in pristine condition.
‘The entire collection came down in a truck and we had to use a forklift to move the 50 or so boxes. It took weeks to unpack and assemble.
‘Gordon would be very pleased as the material has helped me directly in my last six or seven books, including , Heroes.’
* Heroes of the Hour (Echo/Bonnier Publishing), by Ken Piesse, is available soon at $50 posted from Ken at www.cricketbooks.com.au. Ask him to sign your copy. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ken is pictured with radio legend Muriel Cooper at recent interview session