WIGHT, Robert (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 volumes, 4° (273 x 208mm). 196 hand-coloured lithographed plates, 7 folding, by Dumphy after drawings by Indian artists, most plates numbered in a contemporary hand. (Repair to inner blank margin of title to vol. one, plate 190 in vol.II shaved with slight loss at outer margin, final plate in vol.II with 150mm. repaired tear and laminated on verso.) Later green half morocco, spine gilt in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and third, others with a simple repeat decoration of a stylised flower-spray tool.
A FINE 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). 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, 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 or smaller size. Nissen BBI 2142; Stafleu & Cowan VII, 17.580 ("Probable no. of copies printed: 100").