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The Orchid Album, comprising coloured figures and descriptions of new, rare, and beautiful orchidaceous plants. Conducted by ... Warner... The botanical descriptions by Thomas Moore
London: B.S. Williams (I-VIII) and B.S. Williams & Son (IX-XI), 1882-1897. 11 volumes, large quarto. (12 x 9 1/2 inches). 527 lithographic plates by John Nugent Fitch (1 double-page), hand-coloured, printed in colours and finished by hand, or printed in colours, wood-engraved full-page portrait of Williams in vol.IX. Original publisher's brown decorated cloth, the upper cover and spine blocked in gilt and black, the lower cover in blind, gilt edges. A complete set of this important record of all of the greatest orchid varieties discovered and described during the nineteenth century, with beautiful illustrations of the highest quality by John Nugent Fitch. This important work was published periodically by B.S. Williams from his nurseries in Holloway, London, from 1882 until his death in 1890. His son, Henry Williams, continued the publication through to its conclusion in 1897. These dates are important as they mark the final period when significant new varieties of orchids were discovered in the wild. This work therefore, with its selection based largely on the discoveries made during the nineteenth century, offers an unparalleled record of all the best orchid varieties before the impact of the captive- bred hybrids. The preface to the first volume lays out the aims of the publishers: "The great advances which have been made within the last few years in the introduction and the cultivation of Exotic Orchids, have suggested the desirability of devoting a monthly publication to the illustration of the best forms of these singular and aristocratic plants, and also to the explanation of the most successful methods of growing them." In addition there are numerous notes given at the end of the specific descriptions about contemporary orchid collections, shows and growers in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. These offer a valuable glimpse into the world of the late-Victorian orchid enthusiast, and contain information, available no where else, that casts light onto the early history of the captive cultivation of a number of varieties and species. The plates by John Nugent Fitch (a member of the greatest family of British 19th-century botanical artists) benefit greatly from the large format of the work "Being of Royal Quarto size, the pages of the Album are sufficiently large to enable the artist to produce ample and intelligible portraits of the plants without their becoming cumbersome." The resultant work offers both a fascinating insight into the state of knowledge about orchids and their cultivation, and also an unrivalled visual record by one of the great botanical artists of the day. Great Flower Books (1990) p.149; Nissen BBI 2107; The Orchid Observed 23.
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-26           Check availability:      Biblio    

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