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James Avon Smith (1832 - 1918)

Lot 4048: James Sowerby Smith ENGLISH BOTANY COLORED FIGURES 1832-54 Hand-Colored Engraved Plates London Richard Taylor Horticulture Gardening

National Book Auctions

October 14, 2018
Freeville, NY, US

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Description


Title: English Botany, or Colored Figures of British Plants with Their Essential Characters, Synonyms, and Places of Growth
Author: James Edward Smith - Sir James Edward Smith was an English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society.

Smith was born in Norwich in 1759, the son of a wealthy wool merchant. He displayed a precocious interest in the natural world. Smith was a friend of Sir Joseph Banks who was offered the entire collection of books, manuscripts and specimens of the Swedish natural historian and botanist Carolus Linnaeus, following the death of his son Carolus Linnaeus the Younger. Banks declined the purchase but Smith bought the collection for the bargain price of £1,000.

Between 1786 and 1788 Smith made the grand tour through the Netherlands, France, Italy and Switzerland visiting botanists, picture galleries and herbaria. He founded the Linnean Society of London in 1788, becoming its first President, a post he held until his death.

Smith spent the remaining thirty years of his life writing books and articles on botany. A fruitful collaboration was found through descriptions Smith supplied to publisher and illustrator, James Sowerby. Depiction of flora in England had previously only found patronage for aesthetic concerns, but an interest in gardening and natural history saw illustrated publications reaching new audiences.

In 1797 Smith published "The Natural History of the Rarer Lepidopterous Insects of Georgia," the earliest book on American insects.

Publisher: Richard Taylor
City: London
Year: 1832-1854
Binding Style: Hardcover
Number of Volumes: 7 Full Set: Yes
Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Book Details: Here is a gratifying copy of this landmark botanical work. Uniformly bound in full leather with gilt tooling, spine labels and raised bands, the binding work was performed by Smith & Son of Maidstone (paper label on front paste-down of Volume One). This is the seven-volume version of the much-celebrated original edition. The work is mildly abbreviated in this edition and produced in a format more economically approachable for purchase, than was the original.

The focal point of this work is the admirable, hand-colored engraved plates prepared by James Sowerby. The bulk of the leaves in each book are plates, with pages of textual explanation occasionally inserted, resulting in an estimated 1,553 plates in all. James Sowerby (1757 Ð 1822) was an English naturalist, illustrator and mineralogist. Celebrated published works include his detailed and appealing plates. The use of vivid color and accessible texts were intended to reach a widening audience interested in works of natural history.

Condition / Notes: This handsome set shows very well. All spine labels are present and the gilt remains vibrant, with some age/wear concentrated at the extremities and high points. The bindings are all secure with cracking to some hinges in the last three volumes. The pages are clean and bright with a limited amount of foxing and occasional offsetting.

This set was apparently assembled from mixed sources prior to binding. Volume One is from the second edition (1832) while the remaining volumes are from the third edition (1849-1854). Volumes One through Four bear an institutional stamp on the title page while Volumes Five through Seven do not have stamping. Volumes One and Two also have the same stamp on the first textual page. No other institutional markings are present and there is no stamping to the plates.

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We endeavor to provide as much information as we can for each lot we offer and earnestly strive to provide a fair, objective sense of the quality and condition of each item. Our listings always include one or more images of the actual item to assist bidders in their assessment process. Further, except where otherwise stated, we offer a full refund guarantee that our descriptions are free of false information. Any concerns must be brought to our attention within 14 days of the lot's shipment date. We endeavor to provide as much information as possible and describe condition issues as fairly as we are able. Where we have identified particular faults or damage to items it must be understood that reference to such faults does not imply the absence of others, nor does the lack of such a reference imply that an item is free of faults. Prospective purchasers must satisfy themselves as to the suitability of lots before buying. Written and oral descriptions are our opinions and should in no way be construed as a guarantee of any kind as to age, condition, materials or any other feature of items being sold. Many particulars will be subjective in nature and the auctioneer reserves the right to make final decisions as to whether descriptions contain erroneous information of a nature substantial enough to cause false impressions for buyers. Any time we determine that we have made a false statement in a listing, the bidder is invited to return the item for a full refund, with our apologies, except for listings where all sales are specified as final. To qualify for a refund, such false information must be clearly and indisputably incorrect, using a reasonable person standard. Subjective differences of opinion do not constitute false information. We cannot and do not claim that our descriptions are complete, as such a standard is a matter of subjective definition. Any details or criteria beyond what we have provided are the responsibility of the buyer to estimate or establish. Our staff are eager to answer any questions prior to auction and we strongly encourage all bidders to preview items in person before bidding. All items are sold as-is, where-is with no warranties or guarantees of any kind, express or implied. All items are available for examination at our gallery, prior to auction. Your bidding will signify that you have examined the items as fully as you desire, or that you have chosen not to examine them. All item descriptions are subject to change up until time of sale and the written terms in place at the time of sale of the item, shall be the only terms that are binding to the sale. IMPORTANT NOTE: All sales are final on lots for which we receive late payment (more than 10 days after the auction); all lots included on invoices for which payment is not made within ten days of the auction shall be sold as-is and are ineligible for return, regardless of any errors in the description(s).

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