30 April 2008
ROXBURGH, William (1751-1815). Plants of the Coast of Coromandel, selected from drawings and descriptions presented to the Hon. Court of Directors of the East India Company ... published, by their order, under the direction of Sir Joseph Banks, preface by Patrick Russell. London: George Nicol, 1795-1819 [-1820].
Volume I only (of 3), 2° (589 x 465mm). 100 engraved plates coloured by hand in transparent colour, by Mackenzie all after native Indian artists. (A few plates slightly spotted or lightly browned.) Contemporary diced russia, covers with border of single gilt fillet (rebacked with morocco spines, rubbed and repaired).
FINE PLATES FROM A MAJOR WORK ON THE FLORA OF INDIA. An account of the genesis of the work is given in the preface by the physician and naturalist Patrick Russell (1727-1805). Although Russell arrived in India in 1782, 6 years after Roxburgh, he preceded him as botanist to the East India Company. It was only when Russell left India in 1789 that Roxburgh took up the post. Before his appointment, Roxburgh had been for some years 'retained a painter constantly employed in drawing plants,' which he then accurately described with added remarks on their uses. When he forwarded the first group of these drawings and descriptions to the company's Court of Directors in England in 1791, they in turn forwarded them to Sir Joseph Banks who gave his approbation and drew up plans and costings for their publication. The Court of Directors gave their final assent to the work on 4th July 1794. Russell, who not only wrote the preface but probably acted as first editor, died 15 years before the work's completion. As a result Jonas Dryander, Banks's librarian, appears to have become responsible for much of the editing. Dryander dedicated to Roxburgh the genus 'Roxburghia', the type specimen of which (Roxburghia gloriosoides) is illustrated on plate 32. Dunthorne 269; Henrey III, 1289; Nissen BBI 1689.
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