With More than 150 Fine Hand-Colored Plates of Fruit


(London: Henry G. Bohn, 1841). 245 x 150 mm. (9 3/4 x 6"). Three volumes. FIRST EDITION.

Contemporary green half morocco with marbled boards, spine gilt with fruit motifs, raised bands, red and brown morocco labels, gilt edges. WITH 152 BEAUTIFUL HAND-COLORED PLATES (five folding) by C. M. Curtis and Mrs. Augusta Withers, engraved by W. Clark and S. Watts; volume I with a few plates containing supporting elements (foliage, twigs, etc.) left (purposely?) uncolored. Bookplate of Josephi Greene and that of Sir Thomas Neame on the pastedown and front free endpaper of each volume. Janson, "Pomona's Harvest," p. 385; Sitwell & Blunt, "Great Flower Books," p. 114; Nissen 1203; Benezit XIV, 1003. Edges and joints a bit rubbed, covers a little scuffed, a couple of minor marginal stains and occasional foxing (mostly on the paper guards and very rarely affecting leaves with text), otherwise all plates in fine condition, with particularly bright colors.

Representing a marriage of beauty and function, each of the 152 splendid hand-colored plates here features a finely illustrated fruit tree specimen accompanied by a succinct description of its origins and traits (including flavor), as well as advice about the best species for cultivation in British climates. Although the present work, a reissue of "The Pomological Magazine" (1828-30) under a new title, catered more to the tastes of a popular audience than a purely scientific one, the contents reflect the author's customary attention to detail and interest in a wide range of plant characteristics. The self-taught son of a nurseryman, Lindley (1799-1865) was an eminent figure in his field, publishing several important botanical books and articles, editing botanical periodicals, being the guiding force in the horticultural society for many years, and holding the first professorship of botany at the University of London. In response to what he considered to be the exasperating difficulties of identifying plants by the Linnaean system of classification, Lindley devised his own method, happily named the "natural system," though it was unhappily determined to be somewhat less systematic than Linnaeus'. All but a few plates in this work are signed "Mrs. [Augusta] Withers" (1792-1877), who was Flower Painter Ordinary to Queen Adelaide (Queen Consort to William IV). Withers worked as an illustrator on a number of important natural history publications during her career, including Bateman's "Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala," and later expanded her repertoire to include zoological subjects. Benezit notes that gender bias may have barred the artist from achieving even loftier goals; despite her title and highly regarded work, Kew Gardens rejected Withers when she applied for the position of a Botanical Floral Painter there. One of the previous owners of this copy, Sir Thomas Neame (1885-1972), came from a well-known fruit farming family in Kent. His horticultural work and commitment to cooperative sales earned him a knighthood in 1960.

Price: $13,000.00