WARNER, Robert (1814-1896) and Benjamin WILLIAMS (1824-1890). Select Orchidaceous Plants. London: Taylor and Co for Lovell Reeve & Co, [series I & II], Robert Warner [series III], 1862-.
3 volumes, 2o (441 x 318 mm). 118 hand-colored lithographic plates, one unsigned, the others by and after W.H. Fitch (82), J.N. Fitch (22), James Andrews (10), J.L. Macfarlane (3), printed by West, Vincent Brooks or Vincent Brooks, Day & Son. Original half morocco, gilt edges (vol. I loose in binding). Provenance: Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Stickney Fund (bookplate dated 1873; stamps).
FIRST EDITION, A FINE COMPLETE SET, INCLUDING THE VERY RARE THIRD SERIES of Warner and William's work on newly imported orchid species, mostly illustrated by William Hood Fitch, "THE MOST OUTSTANDING BOTANICAL ARTIST OF HIS DAY IN EUROPE" (Blunt & Stearn The Art of Botanical Illustration , p.265). The first series was published between 1862 and 1865 with 40 hand-colored lithographic plates. In the introduction to the first series, dated 1865, Warner admits that the success of his project "has far exceeded our expecations" and announces the appearance of a second series. In the preface to the second series he announces a third series, this was published between 1877 and 1891. The publication of this work reflected the burgeoning interest in orchids in the second half of the 19th century, an interest which produced a huge range of literature, of which fine illustrated productions such as the present work were part.
THE THIRD SERIES IS ONE OF THE LEGENDARY RARITIES AMONG LARGE-FORMAT BOTANICAL WORKS. Only one other copy is listed in auction records for the last 25 years. It was published in very small numbers between 1882 and 1891. 13 of the plates were drawn by Walter Hood Fitch, but the majority (22) were by his nephew John Nugent Fitch (1840-1927) who had taken over as botanical artist to the Botanical Magazine when his uncle resigned in 1878. Of the remaining four plates, one is unsigned and three are by J.L. Macfarlane (1836-c.1913). J.Lewis, Walter Hood Fitch, London, 1992, pp.20 & 32; Nissen BBI 2108; Great Flower Books, p.80.