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English botany; or, coloured figures of British plants, with their essential characters, synonyms, and places of growth.
London for the Author -1814 1790 - First Edition. 36 vols bound in 18, 2952 hand-coloured engraved plates (complete), occasional light offsetting but generally very clean with crisp paper, contemporary tree calf gilt, flat spines with decoration and morocco lettering labels, a fine set. A finely bound set of the first extensive description of British flora. "A knowledge of the plants of our own country is in many respects preferable to that of exotics. nor are the humble productions of our own fields and woods deficient in real beauty, elegance, or singularity of structure. the study of them as a mere amusement, has this eminent advantage over exotic botany, that it doubles the pleasure of every journey or walk, and calls forth to healthy exercise the bodily as well as the mental powers." (Preface). In volume 7 the authors note a decision to include, for the sake of completeness and at the urging of their readers, specimens also included by William Curtis in his Flora Londinensis. "Sowerby (1757–1822), became a student at the Royal Academy on 1 December 1777. Afterwards Sowerby supported himself by teaching drawing or by painting portraits and miniatures, but he disliked the inaccuracy involved in pleasing his subjects and decided to try landscape painting. The resulting sketches persuaded William Curtis to employ him as a botanical illustrator for his publications including the Flora Londinensis (1783–8) and, in return, to instruct him in botany. Sowerby illustrated many of the plants featured in Curtis' Botanical Magazine. After observing the processes of etching and engraving, he acquired sufficient knowledge to undertake his own publications . In order to obtain material for description in English Botany, Sowerby requested botanists throughout the country to submit suitable specimens. By appealing to their vanity, or willingness to serve science, he established the network of naturalists that enabled his family to produce a succession of natural history publications." (ODNB). In 1790, he began English Botany, an enormous project that would take 24 years to complete, and which became known simply as Sowerby's Botany. A enormous number of plants were to receive their formal publication, but the authority for these came from the unattributed text written by James Edward Smith. Smith (1759-1828) was a founder of the Linnean Society who contributed to such major botanical works as Sibthorp's Flora Graeca, and who in 1797 published The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia, the earliest book on American insects. Nissen BBI 2225; Henrey III, 1366-1368; Hunt 717; cf. Dunthorne 291; Pritzel 9711; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 12.221. [Attributes: First Edition; Soft Cover]
      [Bookseller: Shapero Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2014-12-10           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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