|The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed… |
London, for W. Curtis, 1793-1819.
A run of the first forty-six volumes (bound in 25), plus an index volume, octavo, engraved portrait in index volume (lightly foxed) and 2104 hand-coloured engraved plates, some folding; a most attractive set in contemporary half calf, marbled boards, neatly and professionally rebacked to style.
Important early botanical journal with thousands of beautiful coloured plates
An excellent unbroken run covering the best years of “the oldest scientific periodical of its kind with coloured illustrations in the world…In the beauty of production and high standard of its contribution it can claim a unique place” (Patrick Synge, Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 1948, 7e:5-6). Most of the early plates were from drawings by Sydenham Edwards and the colouring by William Graves. Other distinguished artists included James Sowerby, John Curtis, and William Jackson Hooker.
This set comprises the first and most of the second era of the magazine, relating to the editorships of William Curtis himself (vols. I-XVI) and then his successor Dr. John Sims. The work is unmatched for information on the contemporary gardening scene, because both Curtis and Sims understood the close relationship between gardeners and nurserymen, and wanted to advertise the new plants as they became available. With plants from all over the globe, including hundreds from the Cape (due to the indefatigable Francis Masson), as well as the Americas and south-east Asia, the present set includes over 160 finely illustrated Australian plants, of which the substantial majority date from after the voyage of Matthew Flinders, with all manner of notes derived from Peter Good and Robert Brown.
William Curtis (1746-1799) was an important botanist of his day and a member of the Linnean Society. An initial interest in entomology saw him publish his early collectors’ guide, Instructions for Collecting and Preserving Insects (1771), but he soon turned to botany, cutting his teeth at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and later working at Bermondsey and the London Botanic Garden. John Sims (1749-1831) was a physician and botanist, connected to the large network of Quakers in England. A member of both the Linnean Society and the Royal Society, he was ideally placed to take over the Botanical Magazine after the death of Curtis, until he himself retired in 1826.
It would be impossible to list the fantastic array of Australian plants in any detail here, but the first is the Mimosa verticillata (February 1790), collected by David Nelson on Cook’s third voyage. A notable inclusion is a pair of fine plates relating to the cultivation of the “magnificent” Gymea Lily, noted as having been first cultivated by the Right Hon. Charles Long of Bromley Hill in Kent.
Although the beautifully executed plates, most by renowned artist Sydenham Edwards, are the glory of the work, the notes on contemporary gardens and nurseries provide added interest, revealing a complex network of exotic gardens, with famous names such as Lee and Kennedy of Hammersmith and Loddiges of Hackney, as well as lesser lights such as Whitley, Brame & Milne of Fulham, or Grimwood & Wyke of Kensington. It would be possible to draw a remarkable sketch of this network based on a close reading of the Botanical Magazine alone, a sketch which would help reveal important details of a genteel trade in the process of becoming a serious business.
|Location of Origin: England|
|Medium/Materials: Printed book: refer description for details|
|Primary Classification: Books, Manuscripts, and Maps : Other|
Henrey, 473; Nissen BBI, 2350; Pritzel, 2007.
|Item Condition:||Some foxing and the typical offsetting but the plates unusually bright.|
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