16 volumes, large octavo
1834 · London
by PAXTON, Sir Joseph (1801-1865)
London, 1834. 16 volumes, large octavo. (8 7/8 x 6 1/4 inches). 719 hand-coloured engraved or lithographic flower plates by F.W. Smith or S. Holden, a number folding or double-page, 6 plates of designs for gardens, numerous wood-engraved illustrations. Contemporary green half morocco and marbled paper covered boards, spines gilt with semi-raised bands in five compartments, red morocco lettering pieces, green endpapers Provenance: Frederick du Cane Godman (bookplate) First edition of this long-running periodical which includes some of Samuel Holden's finest lithographs of orchids. It is increasingly rare to encounter complete sets of this work in such lovely bindings. The early nineteenth century was a time of particular interest in flowering plants, and a variety of publications attempted to catalogue the ever-growing number of known species. Writing in the introduction of Volume I, Paxton comments that by 1834 nearly 30,000 species had been recorded. The present work was his very successful attempt to bring to the notice "of most flower cultivators" the very best of these species, all shown "natural size, beautifully coloured, from original drawings." The contemporary fascination with orchids is ably demonstrated, particularly in later volumes, by the apparently disproportionately large number of lithographs of the family. The text is "illustrated by numerous Wood-cuts of Plans and Flower Gardens, Elevations of Garden Structures, Utensils and Instruments necessary for Florists and others who take delight in the cultivation of Flowers: and also of Figures representing the practical operations necessary for the proper management and full development of their several beauties; without which figures it is hardly possible to render intelligible the peculiar and requisite mode of operation" (Introduction to Volume I). During the period of the publication of the present work Joseph Paxton carried out most of his important work as superintendent of the gardens at Chatsworth, the principal residence of the Duke of Devonshire. "Between 1832 and 1836 he superintended the erection of the stove, greenhouse, and the orchid-houses, the formation of the magnificent arboretum.. and the making of many estate roads. In 1836 he began the erection of the great conservatory, three hundred feet in length, which was complete in 1840, and formed in some respects the model for the Great exhibition building of 1851... Between 1839 and 1841 Paxton remodeled the village of Edensor, near Chatsworth, and his last great constructive work there was the fountains, the largest of which is 267 feet in height. In 1849 he was successful in flowering the 'Victoria regia' water-lily for the first time in Europe." (DNB). By the end of 1851 he had been knighted for his work on the Crystal Palace. A fine set, including the first issue of volume I, which was first issued in 1833-4 and then reprinted in 1841. Great Flower Books (1990) p.161; Nissen BBI 2351; Oak Spring Flora 40; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 7554.
(Inventory #: 37449)