SOCIETY OF GARDENERS (ca 1720-1730). Catalogus Plantarum A Catalogue of Trees, Shrubs, Plants, and Flowers, Both Exotic and Domestic, Which are propagated for Sale in the Gardens near London. London: For the Society of Gardeners, 1730.
2o (449 x 282 mm). Two letterpress title-pages. Engraved frontispiece by Henry Fletcher and 21 plates by H. Fletcher and F. Kirkall after Jacob Van Huysum: 7 mezzotints printed in colors and 14 hand-colored engravings, printed on two paper stocks (plate 1 a bit soiled, plate 5 with pinprick within image, plate 21 with upper right corner renewed, affecting final letters in two lines of title, some other minor spotting and soiling). Modern quarter morocco. Provenance: purchased from Wheldon and Wesley, 1966.
FIRST EDITION OF "ONE OF THE EARLIEST FLOWER BOOKS TO CONTAIN PLATES PRINTED IN COLORS. It is perhaps unique in that one third of its plates are so printed, in mezzotint from a single plate, while two thirds are engraved and handcolored in the usual way. The book is also unusual in that it is ostensibly the work of twenty authors, listed as the Society of Gardeners at the end of the Preface, though it is usually assumed that one of their number, Philip Miller, was responsible for the text" (Hunt).
Although three or four volumes were planned, this is the only one to by published. Among the members of the Society were Robert Furber, John Thompson, Christopher Gray and Francis Hunt. Dunthorne and Blunt point to the importance of the mezzotint plate of the Double Nasturtium, of which Blunt notes that it "was subsequently lost to cultivation and only reintroduced quite recently." The present volume is very scarce: the last copy recorded at auction by American Book Prices Current was that of the Lindley Library, sold Christie's London, 20 April 1983. Dunthorne 119; Great Flower Books, p.57; Hunt 485; Nissen BBI 2230.