JOHN MILLER (1715-1780)
Illustratio systematis sexualis Linnaei, edited, revised and translated into German by Moritz Balthazar Borckhausen. Frankfurt: Varrentrapp and Wenner, 1804. 2 (522 x 367mm). 104 hand-coloured engraved plates by Conrad Felsing after the author, with tissue guards, accompanying text in Latin and German in parallel columns. (Plate 91 soiled at upper margin, plate 104 with small repair to outer margin, title with effaced ownership stamp.) Later 19th-century German cloth-backed boards (extremities a little worn).
Johann Sebastian Mueller was a German botanical artist and engraver who settled in London (1744), anglicising his name to John Miller. His Illustratio systematis sexualis Linnaei was first published in London in 20 parts, 1770-1777, with the plates all engraved by the artist himself. Henrey (II, p. 654) describes it as the "most notable" of the numerous books published in Britain during the second half of the 18th century which were either translations from Linnaeus or devoted to explaining his classification and terminology. During its first publication, the naturalist John Ellis wrote a letter to Linnaeus, dated 28 December 1770, reading: "... there is a valuable work now carrying on upon your system by Mr. John Miller, a German painter and engraver, under the direction of Dr. Gowan Knight, of the British Museum. This will make your system of botany familiar to the ladies, being in English as well as Latin. The figures are well drawn, and very systematically dissected and described" (quoted by Henrey p. 279). Recognition of the work's merits led to three London re-issues, as well as Frankfurt editions of 1789 and 1804, both published by Varrentrapp and Wenner. The editions were small and are, in all instances, rare. This copy has most attractive contemporary hand-colouring. Nissen BBI 1373; Stafleu and Cowan III, 6486.