CURTIS, William (1746-1799) and John SIMS (1749-1831). The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed. London: 1787-1815.
Volumes 1-40, bound in 20 volumes, 8o (230 x 142 mm). Engraved portrait of William Curtis and 1,683 hand-colored engraved plates, some folding, including two uncolored plates (nos. 903B and 1605B). (Occasional pale spotting.) Contemporary green half straight-grained morocco, the spines in six compartments, with five raised bands, gilt-lettered in two, ornament panel with floral-roll border centering a rose device, speckled edges, marbled endpapers. Provenance: Elizabeth Mary Rancliffe (engraved armorial bookplate in volume one and presentation on title-page: "for Lily from her affectionate Rancliffe").
FIRST EDITION, A BEAUTIFULLY COLORED COPY OF ONE OF THE OLDEST SCIENTIFIC PERIODICALS OF ITS KIND. William Curtis had witnessed from personal experience that his clients refused to buy folio pictures of unassuming plants but he felt that they would subscribe to an octavo work which pictured the showy plants that filled their gardens. From this premise was born the Botanical Magazine in February 1787. The work was immediately successful, and the early volumes were quickly reissued. William Curtis edited the work until his death in 1799 (vols. 1-13) and the remaining volumes in the present run were overseen by John Sims. The plates were worked on by many of the most prominent botanical artists of the day, notably John Curtis, Sydenham Edwards, James Sowerby and William Hooker. The magazine continued throughout the 19th century, and despite many changes of proprietors, editors, artist and printing method, throughout the 20th century. Under a different title it still flourishes today. Blunt (1994), pp.211-217; Great Flower Books, pp.156-7; Nissen BBI 2350; Stafleu & Cowan 1290. (3)