Boston: L. Prang & Co., 1864. First Edition. Cloth. Very Good. A splendid, comprehensive collection of Prang's hard-to-find botanical and zoological chromolithographic cards issued in 1864. Folio, 35.5 by 30.5 cm. 35 leaves, with the first being a title leaf, followed by 34 leaves each containing slots for a dozen chromolithographic cards, all but four of which are filled, for a total of 404 pictorial cards, plus an additional 34 title cards on the backs of each of these leaves, or a grand total of 438 Prang cards. Cards from Prang card series pertaining to natural history, including 95 (of 96) from Wild Flowers, 36 from Sea Mosses, 72 from Butterflies and Moths, 24 from Wood Mosses, 60 from Autumn Leaves, 22 (of 24) from Flowers, 24 from Fruit Blossoms, 12 from Roses, 71 (of 72) from American Birds. At this time Prang had a few other series unrelated to natural history. This collection, though, but for the insignificant number of missing cards, is comprehensive of the nature-related series. The individual cards are all strikingly beautiful, with strong color that remains undiminished, their fidelity to the subject, and their simplicity, but together, we find that the totality is even greater than the sum of the parts, as well as presenting a full record of this area of Prang's printing activity. We believe, given the general scarcity of these albums, that this one was primarily intended as a salesman sample catalogue, but this particular copy was given to M. L. Smith as a New Year's present by her husband on January 1, 1865, as is written on the front board on a leather centerpiece label. We believe that the husband was Walter Smith, an educator who was a close collaborator of Prang, and this is certainly consistent with the pedagogical purpose of the cards, which were meant to disseminate greater knowledge of plants, birds and butterflies. The cards are age toned, and many have some light, occasionally moderate, soiling, besides -- sometimes fox marks, sometimes other stains. The card stock used for the leaves is now britle, with some minor edge chips a result. Rebacked, with appropriate brown calf that blends well with cloth boards. Raised bands on spine. Cloth of boards with some soiling, wear, and a few blister spots. Newer endpapers. (Inventory #: 005051)
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