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James (1756) Sowerby (1756 - 1822)

Lot 320: SOWERBY, James (1757-1822) and Sir James SMITH (1759-1828). English Botany; or, Coloured

Christie's

June 8, 2005
London, United Kingdom

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SOWERBY, James (1757-1822) and Sir James SMITH (1759-1828). English Botany; or, Coloured Figures of British Plants and General Indexes to English Botany. London: J. Davis [vols I-VII], R. Taylor and Co. [vols VIII-XXXV], and Richard and Arthur Taylor [vol. XXXVI] for J. Sowerby, 1790-1814. 37 volumes bound in 36. 2592 hand-coloured engraved plates, 3 folding, printed in black, bistre, green, and other colours, by and after James Sowerby and James de Carle Sowerby. 3-leaf indices bound in at the end of vols XXI-XXXVI. (Some variable light spotting and browning, occasional light offsetting, a few text leaves or plates creased or trimmed, a few text leaves and plates with traces of earlier guards at fore-edges, small paper flaws on a few plates, index volume lacking half-title.)

HOOKER, Sir William Jackson (1785-1865) and James de Carle SOWERBY (1787-1871). Supplement to the English Botany. London: Richard Taylor [vol. I] and R. and J.E. Taylor [vols III-IV] for J.D.C. and C.E. Sowerby [vol. I], C.E Sowerby [vol. II], J. Sowerby [vol. III], and J.W. Salter [vol. IV], [1829]-1831-1849. Volumes I-IV [only, of 5]. 368 hand-coloured engraved plates numbered 2593-2960, 4 folding, printed in black, bistre, green, and other colours, by and after J.D.C. Sowerby and John William Salter. Half-title to vol. I. 3-leaf indices and 1-leaf errata bound in at the end of vols I-II and IV, 2-leaf indices at the end of vol. III. (Occasional light spotting, a few plates trimmed to platemark.)

40 volumes, 8° (228 x 138mm). Late 19th-/early 20th-century green straight-grained half morocco by Wood, London, flat spines gilt in compartments, lettered in 3 and dated at the foot, top edges gilt (occasional very light rubbing or scuffing, spines somewhat faded). Provenance: pencilled annotations in a contemporary hand, some describing specimens discovered in Monmouthshire and Kent, initialed GBW -- J.A.D. Bridger, Penzance (bookseller's tickets).

FIRST EDITIONS. A COMPLETE SET OF SOWERBY'S IMPORTANT BOTANICAL CONSPECTUS, which aimed to portray all indigenous British plants (except fungi), together with the four complete volumes of the Supplement. 'The prevailing taste for botanical pursuits, and the encouragement afforded in this country to every work which tends to advance them, have given rise to the present undertaking, and make any apology for it unnecessary... it seems extraordinary that among the many merely descriptive works on British Plants, no successful attempt has hitherto been made to illustrate them by original figures on a cheap and compendious plan' (English Botany, I, pp. [iii]-iv). The text of English Botany (apart from the descriptions of plates 16-18 by George Shaw) is by Sir James Smith and the plates by the Sowerbys; in this set, the title of vol. II is in the first state, with Sowerby's name alone and without the later watermark. The text of the Supplement was written by Hooker, William Borrer, Charles C. Babington, Miles J. Berkeley, William Wilson, and W.W. Newbould, and it was illustrated by the plates of J.D.C. Sowerby and Salter; it seems probable that the original owner of this set never purchased the fifth, unfinished volume of the Supplement, which was published in 1863-6, some 14 years after the fourth volume. Arnold Arboretum p. 661; BM(NH) V, p.1982; Brunet V, col. 415; Cleveland Collections 601; Dunthorne 291 (calling for 4 Supplement vols only); Henrey 1366-1368; Hunt 717; Nissen BBI 2225-2226; Pritzel 8789-8791; Stafleu and Cowan 12221. (40)

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