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Plantæ Javanicæ rariores, descriptæ iconibusque illustratæ, quas in insula Java, annis 1802-1818, legit et investigavit
printed by Richard Taylor, for William H. Allen & Co, London 1852 - Contemporary English green half morocco over marbled paper-covered boards, spine expertly rebacked with original spine laid down, the original spine gilt in five compartments with semi-raised bands, lettered in the second and fourth compartments, marbled endpapers, gilt edges A fine copy of this rare work on the most botanically interesting plants on the island of Java: this is the deluxe hand-coloured issue of this spectacular record of the findings of the first American to carry out scientific research in Southeast Asia This work was published in four parts over an unusually-extended period which has meant that complete copies are now rare. Lowndes notes that parts I-III were published at 5 guineas with the plates uncoloured. The deluxe issue with the plates hand-coloured as here cost 7 guineas. In addition, the present copy also includes an apparently unrecorded dedication leaf (dated 9 April 1852 acknowledging the patronage of the East India Company) which is not called for by any of the bibliographies cited below. Horsfield assembled his herbarium in Java between 1802 and 1819. Born in Pennsylvania, Horsfield first visited Java in 1800 shortly after qualifying as a doctor in Philadelphia. The astonishingly rich flora and fauna captured his imagination, and he returned as an employee of the Dutch East India Company, a post that allowed him to start his researches in 1802. The fall of Holland to the French gave the British an excuse to take over the Dutch overseas territories, and following the British capture of Java in 1811, Horsfield was able to obtain the patronage of the charismatic governor of the region: Sir Stamford Raffles. Horsfield travelled throughout the island observing not only the botanical, but also zoological and geological aspects of its natural history, and mapping it. Ill-health forced him to leave Java in 1819, and he accompanied his collections back to London. On his arrival in Britain, Horsfield handed the herbarium over to Robert Brown who "undertook the examination and arrangement" (prospectus, p. [v]) of the collection. Brown's work eventually showed that the herbarium included 2,196 distinct specimens: the importance of the collection was also recognised and it was therefore decided to publish detailed descriptions of the "more remarkable, new or imperfectly known plants" (prospectus, p. [v]). This work also fell to Brown, but the pressure of his numerous other projects meant that the publication was severely delayed. Brown was able to oversee the production of the beautiful plates, but then, with Horsfield's agreement, the job of writing and overseeing the rest of the work was passed on to Brown's assistant Bennett. He proved to be an admirable substitute and the final part was eventually published fifty years after Horsfield began his collection. Arnold Arboretum p.73; BM (NH) I, p. 135; Brunet III, 340; Great Flower Books p. 74; Lowndes II, p. 1122 (parts I-III only); Nissen BBI 934; Pritzel 613; Stafleu & Cowan 418. (14 1/8 x 10 1/2 inches). Title in Latin, preliminary leaves, indices and postscript in English, text in Latin and English. Folding engraved map of Java by J. and C. Walker after Horsfield with his routes marked in red by hand, 50 engraved plates by J. Curtis and E. Weddell after C. and J. Curtis (47 hand-coloured [6 of these double-page], 3 uncoloured [1 of these double-page]). Plate XXIV trimmed touching image as usual). 4 parts bound in one volume, 4to [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: Donald A. Heald Rare Books (ABAA)]
Last Found On: 2014-10-02           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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