THORNTON, Robert John (1768-1837). The Philosophy of Botany. London: T. Bensley for the publishers, White, Johnson and Co. ... and the author, -1810.
4 volumes, 2° (471 x 330mm). Engraved calligraphic general title 'The Philosophy of Botany, being Botanical, and Philosophical Extracts'. Comprising: vols I-II. Botanical Extracts or Philosophy of Botany. London: T. Bensley for the publishers, White, Johnson and Co. ... and the author, 1810. 2 letterpress titles with mounted woodcut allegorical vignettes by Branston after Thurston. 2 engraved plates of double-portraits by Caldwell after Opie and David depicting Priestley/Lavoisier and Mayow/Evelyn and one aquatint botanical plate by Warner after Henderson; vol. III. Elementary Botanical Plates ... Intended to Illustrate Botanical Extracts. London: T. Bensley for the publishers, White, Johnson and Co. ... and the author, 1810. Letterpress title. Engraved allegorical frontispiece by Ridley after Russell and Opie. 26 engraved portraits, one engraved view, and 74 engraved, mezzotint, and aquatint plates of botanical, scientific, and other subjects, 3 double-page; vol. IV. Illustrations of the Sexual System [letterpress part-title]. Engraved frontispiece by Bartolozzi and Landseer after Reinagle. 86 engraved, mezzotint, and aquatint botanical plates, 2 folding, 2 double-page. (Variable, generally light, spotting, browning, and offsetting, some plates trimmed, generally only affecting imprint or title but occasionally with loss of image, 3 plates lightly dampstained.) Contemporary diced russia gilt [endpapers watermarked 1807], boards with deep gilt borders of multiple fillets and palmette rolls, enclosed by a blind foliate roll, gilt turn-ins, spines gilt in compartments, lettered in one 'THORNTON'S PHILOSOPHY OF BOTANY', numbered in a second, and dated at the foot, other compartments decorated with symmetrical arrangements of floral and foliate tools, gilt edges, green silk markers (a little rubbed and scuffed, 2 hinges with traces of worming at foot, one vol. with slight cracking on joints, corners slightly bumped).
RARE. A FINELY-BOUND SET. Although there is some disagreement amongst bibliographers, the three components of this work are properly known together under the title The Philosophy of Botany and were issued as such; the titling on the spine of this and the following lot (possibly in a publisher's binding) and the engraved titles in both sets (in two different states) confirm this. This set appears to be an earlier issue than the following lot, without the word 'Including' on the engraved title. Only one other 4-volume set of The Philosophy of Botany is recorded by ABPC since 1975. For a copy of Thornton's New Illustration of the Sexual System of Carolus von Linnaeus ... the Temple of Flora in a near-uniform binding see the previous lot. Cleveland Collections 744; Nissen BBI 1956; Pritzel 9235; Stafleu and Cowan 14284-14285. (4)