Mary Vaux Walcott (1860-1940)
North American Wild Flowers. Washington: Smithsonian Institute, 1925[-1928]. 5 volumes, large 4 (355 x 280mm). Half titles. Title with seal of the Smithsonian printed as a vignette in red. 400 coloured plates after Walcott. Unbound as issued (with the exception of the stiiched titles and preliminaries in each volume and the index in the final volume), all within five black morocco-backed silver-gray shot-cloth portfolios, the upper cover of each with sunken panel with onlaid stamped metal medallion of the seal of the Smithsonian, silver silk ties, original publisher's boxes to vols.I, III-V.
"A labor of love" and a mint set of the first edition, this set numbered 444 in each volume, with the foreword in the first volume signed by the author/artist. Mrs. Walcott writes in her foreword "Wild flowers were a joy and inspiration in the happy days of childhood when I was taught to observe and sketch them under the direction of a skilled artist...During the past ten years I have spent from three to four months each season in the Canadian Rockies, where Dr. [Charles Doolittle] Walcott was carrying out geological explorations, covering in all more than five thousand miles on mountain trails...As time went on and the collection grew, botanists, artists and others interested in flowers began to urge that the water-color sketches should be permanently preserved and made available for students and lovers of the beautiful in Nature, before the dust of time faded and browned them to the hues of the pressed flowers in the herbaria. A survey of wild flower publications led to the decision that there was need for a finely illustrated work that would be of service pictorially to all professions and amateur botanists and designers, and to the larger group of lovers of the wild flowers and the great-out-doors. To many of these the living flowers are inaccessible, and their real beauty unknown. No attempt has been made to create a text book with technical descriptions, or to illustrate all native American wild flowers, and only native plants have been included." The bibliographies do not mention this numbered edition signed by the author. Blunt & Stearn The Art of Botanical Illustration (1994) pp.301 & 328; Nissen BBI 2094; Stafleu & Cowan 16.550. (5)