18 December 2002
EDWARDS, John (1742-1815. The British Herbal, containing one hundred plates of the most beautiful and scarce flowers and useful medicinal plants which blow in the open air of Great Britain, accurately coloured from nature with their botanical characters, and a short account of their cultivation... London: Printed for the Author, sold by J. Edmonson and J. Walker, 1770.
2o (450 x 270 mm). 93 (of 100) hand-colored engraved plates by J. Edwards, Ferner, W. Darling and I. Fougeron after J. Edwards (lacking 7 plates, a few with light offsetting or pale browning). Contemporary calf gilt (rebacked preserving original spine, a bit worn). Provenance: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Stickney Fund (bookplate dated 1877; stamps).
FIRST EDITION, second issue of "THIS OUTSTANDING FOLIO VOLUME" (Henrey). The first issue of the present work was published in monthly parts in 1769-1770 under the title Edwards's British Herbal. The present work is the second issue, and it was reissued again in 1775 as A select collection of hundred plates. "In its graceful illustrations the artist allowed his imagination free rein, feeling no need to consult a botanist or to tailor his drawings to the exacting requirements of science" (L. Tongiorgi Tomasi, An Oak Spring Flora, p.246). The work is an herbal in name only, with text compiled from the descriptions in the works of Edwards' contemporaries, and ordered according to Edwards' innate design sense rather than Tournefort's or Linnaeus' classification. Dunthorne 104; Great Flower Books (1990), p.93; Henrey II, p.17 and III, 675; Nissen BBI 78; Pritzel 2620; Stafleu 1624; cf. L. Tongiorgi Tomasi An Oak Spring Flora 64.
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