18 December 2002
BATEMAN, James (1811-1897). A Monograph of Odontoglossum. London: L.Reeve & Co., [1864-]1874.
Large 2o (545 x 370 mm). Half-title. 30 hand-colored lithographic plates by W.H. Fitch (some mostly marginal pale damstaining to six plates). Publisher's half morocco, gilt-lettered on front cover (a bit worn and cockled). Provenance: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Stickney Fund (bookplate dated 1876; stamps).
FIRST EDITION of Bateman's monograph on the Odontoglossum. Bateman, a pioneer of orchid culture, organized and paid for collectors to work in Mexico and South America, publishing two other lavish works on orchids (The Orchidaceae of Mexico and Guatemala, 1837-1843; and A Second century of orchidaceous plants, 1867; see lots 4 and 6), and was one of the first to advocate "cool" orchid cultivation. "Extremely variable in their markings, there are over three hundred known species of Odontoglossum in Mexico and South America. The genus grows predominantly at high elevations ... Although their introduction into Europe came relatively late, their need for cool temperatures and dry air made them popular with those who had no greenhouse" (The orchid observed). "Fitch (1817-1892), the most prolific of all botanical artists, was a typical product of the Victorian era, able and industrious... [He] was a young apprentice to a firm of Glasgow calico designers when Hooker... first made his acquaintance... In 1841, when Hooker was appointed Director of the Royal Gardens at Kew, he took [Fitch] south with him... Some idea of Fitch's gigantic industry can be gauged from the [f]act that 9960 published drawings by him are recorded" (Blunt). Great Flower Books, p.49; Nissen BBI 88; The Orchid Observed 20; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 343.
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