MILLER, John (1715-1792). Illustratio Systematis Sexualis Linnaei ... An Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus. London: by the Author, -1777.
2 volumes, 2° (533 x 363 mm). Engraved frontispiece, 2 engraved titles, preface leaf with list of 83 subscribers on verso, 208 engraved plates by Miller in two states, plain and hand-coloured before letters, together with 4 hand-coloured engraved plates of leaves bound in at beginning of vol. I. (Some very light offsetting and spotting.) Contemporary russia, covers with gilt Greek key border (rebacked with flat morocco spines, covers scuffed and neatly repaired).
A LARGE MARGINED COPY WITH THE PLATES IN TWO STATES, 'An immense work of botany wherein the pencil of Miller illustrated, in a style of unprecedented elegance, the sexual system of Linnaeus' (J.C. Lettson, Memoirs of John Fothergill, p.106). Miller was a Nuremberg artist who anglicized his name on arrival in London in 1744. The botanical aspects of the plates were overseen initially by Gowan Knight (1713-1772), the first Principal Librarian of the British Museum and a friend of Fothergill's. The plates were issued both coloured and uncoloured, the latter, for scientific purposes, were published with letters, the former for aesthetic reasons were published without. The work appeared in twenty parts from 1770 to 1777 and was sold to 85 subscribers (who ordered 105 sets). Linnaeus himself was sent samples of the work for his approval and responded enthusiastically, considering it 'more beautiful and more accurate than any that had been seen since the world began' (Great Flower Books, 1990, p. 120). Nissen BBI 1372; Dunthorne 222; Henrey 1153; Stafleu and Cowan 6483. (2)