Its 206 Fine Plates of American Botany Exceeding by More than 100 The Number of Plates in Any Other Recorded Copy


(Paris: Chez l'Auteur, 1783). 462 x 280 mm. (18 1/4 x 11"). With three engraved titles (at the beginning of each volume and before plates 201-06 in volume II) and letterpress numbered list of plates 1-200, noting that the plates would "finish being engraved in 1786." Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.

Attractive contemporary red morocco, covers bordered with decorative gilt rolls, raised bands, spines gilt in compartments with central wreath enclosing a floral sprig, this surrounded by small tools, acanthus leaf cornerpieces, gilt lettering, gilt turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With three engraved titles and 206 HAND-COLORED ENGRAVED PLATES--the 200 called for in the plate list and six additional plates--all captioned "Herbier de l'Amerique" and numbered in ink by a contemporary hand at the head of the platemark. Rehder, "The Bradley Bibliography" I, 328 (calling for 200 plates); Dunthorne 68 (citing only the Massachusetts Horticultural Society copy, calling for 100 plates); Nissen BBI 285 (calling for 100 plates). Not in Cleveland, Hunt, or Sabin. Spine of volume I with short abrasion to head compartment, boards of volume II with a couple of minor scratches and a smattering of small dark spots, but the bindings extremely well preserved and pleasing. Plate 118 with faint brown stains affecting the background on either side of the main image, plates 157-59 with minor browning or foxing, other trivial imperfections, but A FINE COPY, internally clean, fresh, and bright, with lovely coloring.

In handsome contemporary morocco, our copy of this very rare and beautiful work of American botany contains more plates--at 206--than any other example recorded in bibliographies, OCLC, or auction records. The largest number of plates among the 10 copies in OCLC is 101 (and only the 1911 "Bradley Bibliography" compiled by Alfred Rehder of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University mentions the plate list that appears in the present volume). This list notes that the first 84 engravings were taken from another Buc'hoz work, "Les Dons Merveilleux dans le Règne Végétal" [1779-83], and plates 85-200 were drawn from his "Le Jardin d'Éden" (1783)--these origins accounting for the roman numerals engraved on the plates, which do not match the numbers assigned in the plate list and handwritten on the plates. The fact that both of these source works had been completed by 1783 and the presence of a third title page in our volume suggest that Buc'hoz contemplated a third volume, and perhaps began gathering plates for it, represented here by the final six plates. These additions invite one to speculate that our copy once belonged to a close associate of the author. Born in Metz, Pierre Joseph Buc'hoz (1731-1807) studied medicine at Nancy and served as physician in ordinary to Stanislaus, King of Poland, before leaving this post to pursue his passion for botany. He returned to royal service to identify and record the many new plants acquired for Louis XV's Jardin du Trianon, then returned to Nancy to teach botany at the medical college. He compiled and published more than 300 volumes of botanical works, many of them illustrated, in his lifetime. The present book is one of the rarest: we could trace just one other copy at auction in the past half-century, sold--containing just 100 plates--at Christie's in 2002 for $19,120.

Price: $95,000.00