London, South Kensington
8 October 2014
JAMES SOWERBY (1757-1822)
Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms. London: J. Davis [vols. I-II] or Wilks [vol. III] for the Author [and others, 1795-] 1797-1803 [-1815]. 4 volumes, including Supplement, bound in two, 2° (320 x 197mm). 441 hand-coloured engraved plates on 437 sheets. (Pl. 257 in vol. III in duplicate, some occasional light browning, spotting and offsetting.) 19th-century half calf (worn, covers detached). Provenance: 'FMW & N' (19th-century monogrammed bookplate with earl's coronet) -- Lady Templeton (presentation inscriptions and letter dated November 1926 to:) -- Arthur Palliser.
FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE FINEST WORKS ON MUSHROOMS and fungi with the rare supplement. One plate, 268 in vol. III, apparently includes an original mounted sample of the spore of a 200-year old puff-ball: 'The little circle no.1 in the plate contains the powder or seeds mixed with gum arabic' (accompanying text). However, neither the gum arabic nor the spores are visible. The supplement was never completed and does not require a separate title page. The copper-engraved plates are printed using a single base colour (normally black, but occasionally orange, brown, etc), they are all finished by hand. ' The text of the work was by Sowerby himself and in connection with its production made a series of models for British fungi ... now in the B.M.(N.H.)' (Cleevely). Cleevely p. 488; Henrey III, 1363; Nissen BBI 1874; Stafleu & Cowan 12.490; Volbracht 2028 ('Sehr selten').
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