Robert Wight (1796-1872)
Spicilegium Neilgherrense or a Selection of Neilgherry Plants, drawn and coloured from nature. Madras: printed for the Author [vol.I: by the Spectator Press; vol.II: P.R. Hunt, American Mission Press], sold by Messrs. Franck & Co. and Messrs. Ostell. Lepage & Co in Calcutta [vol.II also sold by H.Bailliere in London], 1846-1851. 2 vols, 4° (275 x 211mm). 196 hand-coloured lithographed plates (7 folding) by Dumphy after drawings by Indian artists. Red half morocco, spine gilt in seven compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second, numbered in the third, others with a simple repeat decoration of a small foliate tool. Provenance: Royal Horticultural Society, Lindley Library (presentation inscription "With the Author's Compliments", ink stamp, bookplate with manuscript note of withdrawal signed Fred. J. Chittenden); Arpad Plesch (bookplate, sale Sotheby's 16 March 1976 lot 811 to Baer).
THE LINDLEY/PLESCH PRESENTATION COPY OF THIS VERY RARE WORK ON INDIAN PLANTS. The work is essentially a selection from the plants described in Wight's Icones Plantarum Indiae Orientalis (Madras: 1838-1853, see previous lot). The numbering of the plates is erratic, and the problem of the correct plate count is compounded by the folding plates having double numeration: the plates are numbered to 202, but nos.74 and 75 were not issued, the seven folding plates bring the total down to 193, but the three bis plates (42/1, 67/2 and 67/3) give a final total of 196. Nissen calls for 204 plates (incorrect collation) and the Plesch catalogue 203 (counting the folding plates as two).
Although Wight received some help from the government (in the form of a multiple subscription) the Icones Plantarum was not a financial success. In an effort to recoup some of his losses he issued the present work, using the plates that had already been used in the larger work, but issuing them hand-coloured, rather than uncoloured, and accordingly charging a premium. The Icones is thought to have been limited to no more than 200 copies, the present work was probably issued in an edition of similar size. Nissen BBI 2142. (2)