(London: Printed for the Author; And Sold by John Rivington [et al.], -60). 425 x 270 mm. (16 3/4 x 10 5/8"). vi, 200,  pp. Two volumes in one. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary calf, cover with thin gilt border and small cornerpieces, raised bands, compartments with much gilt tooling, red label with gilt lettering, skillfully rebacked preserving most of original backstrip. WITH 300 LOVELY HAND-COLORED ENGRAVINGS OF FLOWERS (two of which are folding). Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of John Pollexfen Bastard. Sitwell, "Great Flower Books," p. 121; Hunt 566; Henrey 1097; Pritzel 6242; Nissen 1378; Hazel le Rougetel, "The Chelsea Gardener Philip Miller 1691-1771," pp. 110, 114. Covers somewhat scratched, corners a bit worn, but the restored binding solid and appealing. Occasional mild thumbing or light browning, perhaps a dozen plates with minor to moderate offsetting, but A VERY PLEASING COPY INTERNALLY, quite clean and fresh, and with attractive coloring.
By a man characterized by DNB as "the most distinguished and influential British gardener" of the time, this lavishly illustrated work is called by celebrated botanist W. T. Stearn the most important horticultural work of the 18th century. And Richard Pulteny, the British naturalist and historian of science, said that "England had not before produced any work, except the 'Hortus Elthamensis' or Catesby's 'Carolina,' so superb and extensive." Published in 50 monthly parts containing six plates each, these two impressive folio volumes comprise in Hunt's words, a "complement and fulfillment" of Miller's popular but sparsely illustrated "Gardener's Dictionary," with 300 splendid depictions of plants drawn from live specimens in the renowned Chelsea Physic Garden, where Miller served as head gardener. Miller (1691-1771) published "Figures" as a means to showcase in a grand fashion a selection of species deemed to be either noteworthy, useful in trade or medicine, or somehow overlooked by botanists. According to DNB, the lovely plates here, executed by eminent artists that include Georg Ehret, were "commended at the time for being drawn from nature in the best state of flowering, and for including illustrations of fruit and seed as they ripened." Miller boasts in the preface that "no Expense has been spared to render it as perfect as possible: The Drawings were taken from the living Plants; the Engravings were most of them done under the Author's Inspection; and the Plates have been carefully coloured from the original Drawings and compared with the Plants in their Perfection." This book appears with some regularity in the market, but it is quite difficult to find in the kind of condition seen here. (ST13850)
Add to Cart Price: $29,500.00
PJP Catalog: natural history.019