Thomas Moore (1821-1887)
The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland... Edited by John Lindley... Nature-printed by Henry Bradbury. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1855[-1856]. 2° (550 x 375mm). Half-title. 51 nature-printed plates, all printed in colours, by Bradbury & Evans under the direction of Henry Bradbury. (Some general spotting to plates, occasionally heavy, neat library stamp to verso of each plate and lower margins of a few text leaves, light old dampstain to lower margin of last two plates.) Contemporary half morocco gilt (neatly rebacked). Provenance: Municipal Library Warrington (various early ink stamps).
First edition of Bradbury's chef d'oeuvre and a fine example of nature printing. "Attempts were long since made to obtain Botanical portraits by printing from the plants themselves, flattened and otherwise prepared for the purpose... The process of the Imperial Printing Office at Vienna, to which the name of Nature-Printing has been happily applied, and to which the Work now offered to the public owas its origin, is a great improvement upon the old method, inasmuch as it represents not only general form with absolute accuracy, but also surface, hairs, veins, and other minutiae of superficial structure by which plants are known irrespective of the hidden details of their hidden organisation. Moreover, an exact copy in copper of the part to be represented being employed by the printer, instead of so fragile an object as the plant itself, we obtain the means of multiplying copies to the same extent as in copperplate engraving; and hence the method becomes suitable for purposes of publication." (John Lindley, writing in the preface of the present work).
Henry Bradbury (1831-1860), eldest son of William Bradbury of Bradbury & Evans, published the present work in 17 monthly parts between June 1855 and September 1856. With text by Thomas Moore (curator of the Chelsea botanic garden and co-editor of Gardener's Chronicle) and edited by John Lindley (1799-1865), the work was one of the first of the genre printed in Britain. Bradbury went on to publish a four-volume work with nature-printed plates of sea-weeds (W.H. Johnstone & A. Croall. The nature-printed British Seaweeds. London: 1859-60). It is not known how the controversy surrounding nature printing affected Bradbury, but he committed suicide at the age of 29 by drinking acid. He left a number of unrealised projects, including two further nature-printed works on fungi and trees. Fischer 89-91; Nissen BBI 1400; Stafleu & Cowan 6275.