The present watercolours belonged to George Hibbert, an eminent merchant, politician, slave and ship owner, book collector and amateur botanist. According to J.C.L. Loudon's 1835 Encyclopedia of Gardening: 'The collection of heaths, Banksias, and other Cape and Botany Bay plants, in Hibbert's garden, was most extensive, and his flower-garden was one of the best round the metropolis'. According to some contemporary reports it was larger than the garden at Kew. Hibbert had a close relationship with the famous botanist Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820) and was able to use his shipping expertise and mercantile networks to assist Banks, and other botanists, with the international transportation of their plant collections.
Previously bound in a folio with a hand written list of the plants with their Chinese and English names, inscribed at the lower right edge of the sheet 'The above list was made in year 1778'.