[DODART, DENIS and NICOLAS ROBERT. Estampes pour servir à l'histoire des plantes. Paris, c. 1786].
3 vols., large folio, binding: 628 x 477 x 40 mm. (vol I), ROYAL PRESENTATION BINDING, CONTEMPORARY FRENCH RED MOROCCO, stamped in gilt on each upper cover "DONNÉ PAR LE ROI A M. LE COMTE DE BILY EN 1786", with arms of Louis XVI in centers, double fillet and interlace outer border; spines gilt in seven compartments with six raised bands, green morocco gilt-lettered labels in two compartments, a repeated gilt panel of stylized flowers in the rest, board edges and turn-ins gilt, g.e., corners with slight wear, a few minor abrasions and repairs to covers. First 11 plates slightly wormed, plate  with tiny marginal hole,  with marginal tear repaired,  with small marginal stain,  with small gouge mark,  and  with spots; some discoloration of sheets, mostly in vols. II and III.
A ROYAL GIFT ISSUE OF THE FULL SUITE OF NICOLAS ROBERT PLATES PRECEDING THE 1788 ISSUE, one of a very few such suites printed as royal donations and not for sale. 319 engraved plates by Nicolas Robert, Abraham Bosse and Louis de Chatillon after Robert's drawings. This number of plates was completed by 1692 and privately issued in 1701 (without letterpress and named as in the above title). In 1719 Jean Marchant added details of plant structure to the plates based upon Tournefort and Vaillant and occasionally changed the plant names. The present issue of c. 1786 incorporates these changes. In 1788 a very few sets of these revised plates were issued under the title Recueil des plantes gravées par ordre du roi Louis XVI, not for sale and usually presented as royal gifts.
See Laissus and Monseigny, "Les plantes du roi", in Revue d'histoire des sciences, vol. XXII, fasc. 3, pp. 193-236; Nissen BBI 503 and 504.
Provenance: Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 28 April 1987, lot 308). (3)