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2020-11-22 22:40:19
Gray, Asa
Plates Prepared Between the Years 1849 and 1859, to Accompany a Report on the Forest Trees of North America (Limited to 300 copies)
Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1891. After Gray's death, the 23 plates were thought to have been lost but had been carelessly stored in his sprawling house. These surviving plates (total in all the few known complete copies) were expertly drawn by Isaac Sprague. They have survived as fine chromolithographic plates (2 folding). The Smithsonian then issued them in portfolio format in an edition of 300 copies. The plates as in all auction copies are numbered 1-4, 8, 10, 20, 25, 27, 30, 31, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 46-50, 52, 63. The original title page as well as an introduction by Samuel P. Langley, who was Secretary of the Smithsonian, were mounted and laid in. Our copy collates the same as the Smithsonian copy (other copies have images sometimes reversed, possibly due to a binder's error; a few on OCLC appear to be missing plates). The last copies to appear at auction were in the early 1990's and typically brought between $2,000 to $4,000 even with stated imperfections. Since Asa Gray was the foremost botanist in the United States, the discovery of the surviving plates was a major find. His important contributions to American botanical science were also appreciated by Charles Darwin. Besides their mutual consideration of botanical specimens in light of evolution, he shared Darwin's controversial theories that began with the publication of the Origin of Species. As the Botanical Gazette noted: "The 300 copies are now distributed to the principal botanists and museum of the world as mementos of the distinguished man who gave so much of his life and labors to the depart … [Click Below for Full Description]
Bookseller: Alcuin Books, ABAA-ILAB [United States]
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