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Illustratio Systematis Sexualis Linnaei... An Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus
London: by the Author, [1770 - ] 1777. Folio. (21 x 14 inches). 1p. list of subscribers. Uncoloured engraved title, uncoloured emblematic frontispiece, 104 hand-coloured engraved botanical specimen plates (all printed before letters, most printed in brown), 4 hand-coloured engraved plates of leaf forms with imprints and letters, all by and after Miller. (Without the 2-page errata, and without the uncoloured suite of plates). Early 19th-century green morocco gilt (front blank watermarked 1810), covers with triple gilt fillet border, neatly rebacked and with new marbled endpapers added in about 1900, spine gilt in compartments with raised bands. A fine copy of this 'immense work of botany wherein the pencil of Miller illustrated, in a style of unprecedented elegance, the sexual system of Linnaeus' (J.C. Lettsom 'The Memoirs of John Fothergill' [1789], p.106) - unusually, this copy does not include the uncoloured suite of plates. This work was originally issued in twenty parts between 1770 and 1777, and according to the list of subscribers 105 copies were ordered by 85 individuals: Queen Charlotte subscribed for two copies, whilst the booksellers P. Elmsley and B. White each took ten copies. The plates were issued in both coloured and uncoloured states (with only the coloured present in this copy). Once the subscriptions had been filled, there were evidently sets of surplus text and coloured plates: this is supported by Henrey, who records a copy of the work in the Natural History Museum Library in which a new 1794 title page (with R. Faulder as publisher). This re-set title accompanies a suite of the coloured plates made up from what appears to be "the surplus of the plates of the [1770- ]1777 edition" (Henrey III, p.95). The 1810 watermark on the front blank of the present copy suggests that it was perhaps made up from that same surplus, but with a spare title page as well - if this is the case, then the absence of the uncoloured suite of plates is unsurprising. The specimens described and illustrated came in the main from Dr. John Fothergill's famous garden at Upton in Essex. Fothergill was an enthusiastic supporter and indeed, superintendent of the work, but refused Miller's attempt to dedicate the work to him - he felt that dedications were 'more productive of envy to the patron, than of advantage to the author'. 'John Miller, otherwise Johann Sebastian Mueller, was a native of N├╝rnberg. He came to this country in 1744 and remained here until his death which took place in London. He was a botanical artist and engraver of considerable note. Besides the figures of plants ... [in the present work], many examples of his work are to be found in Philip Miller's Figures of the most beautiful... plants...(1755-60), Hunter's edition (1776) of Evelyn's Sylva and Lord Bute's Botanical Tables (1785?).' (Henrey II, p.279). Linnaeus was sent the first two parts of the published work and responded enthusiastically, stating that the plates were 'more beautiful and more accurate' than any he had seen, and Wilfred Blunt, a later but equally discriminating judge, noted that they were excellent. BM(NH) III,p.1370; Bradley I, p.258; Dunthorne 206; Great Flower Books (1990),p.120; Henrey III, 1153 and cf. 1154; Nissen BBI 1372; Stafleu & Cowan III, 6482
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-20           Check availability:      Biblio    

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