Robert Sweet (1783-1835)
The British Flower Garden [First series]. London: printed by Tilling, published by W.Simpkin & R.Marshall for the author, 1823-1829, 3 vols., 8 (232 x 143mm). 300 hand-coloured engraved plates by Weddell, F.W.Smith and others after E.D.Smith, 6 folding. (Occasional mainly light offsetting of text onto plates.) Contemporary calf gilt, g.e. (rebacked). Provenance: Mary Dillon (signatures); H. & C. Walker (bookplate dated 1886).
First edition, and a good set of the first series of this spectacular periodical which forms a valuable record of the flowers then under cultivation in Britain. A second series with a further 412 plates (to be bound in 4 volumes) was published between June 1829 and December 1837. Robert Sweet was born and raised in the West Country and served his apprenticeship under his half-brother James in gardens at Ham Green, residence of Richard Bright. He was subsequently gardener to John Julius Angerstein at Woodlands. From 1810 until the mid-1820s he worked as a nurseryman at various locations near London, being elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in February 1812. After 1826 he devoted himself almost entirely to botanical publications such as the present work. "In June 1831 his brain gave way. He died on 20 Jan. 1835, leaving a widow but no family" (DNB). Dunthorne 293; Great Flower Books (1990) p.141; Nissen BBI 1923; Stafleu & Cowan 13.545. Sold as a periodical not subject to return. (3)