BATEMAN, JAMES. THE ORCHIDACEAE OF MEXICO AND GUATEMALA. [LONDON: J. RIDGWAY AND SONS, 1837-1843] First edition, one of only 125 copies, elephant folio (724 x 510mm.), lithographed title by J. Brandard, engraved dedication to Queen Adelaide, list of subscribers, 40 hand-coloured lithographed plates by M. Gauci after Miss S.A. Drake, Miss Jane Edwards, Samuel Holden and Mrs Augusta Withers, printed by M. Gauci, wood-engraved vignettes by George Cruikshank and others, extra-illustrated with three mounted wood-engravings on two leaves tipped-in to front-free endpaper, proofs after Cruickshank relating to the work (spotted), near contemporary black half morocco, [Great Flower Books, p.48; Nissen BBI 89; Stafleu TL2 342], Lennox Library, New York, duplicate inkstamp on verso of title, Worthing Public Library,bookplate,presented by W.H.B. Fletcher, some spotting as usual, binding somewhat worn
The largest, heaviest, but also probably the finest orchid book ever issued'' (Great Flower Books). ''Bateman's giant folio eclipses the works of all who went before or came after him. Gauci, who executed the forty lithographs (thirty-seven of which were made from drawings by Mrs Withers or Miss Drake), was a true master of the process: his tone ranges from the palest of silvery greys to the richest velvet black; his outline is never mechanical or obtrusive; and the hand-colouring is executed with consummate skill. In this book, the great orchids of central America live for us in all their glory'' (Blunt, The Art of Botanical Illustration). The book also has the odd distinction of being the only botanical work with illustrations by George Cruikshank, one of which parodies the volume's massive bulk and the inconvenience thus caused to librarians.
''The range of the genus Odontoglossum is of a peculiar character, being at once restricted and extensive. It is restricted, for it never leaves the Andes, and it is extensive, for it is found in all parts of that vast mountain-chain... As yet no species has ever been met with at a lower elevation than 2500 feet above sea-level... Like the humming-birds which frequent the same mountains, and vie with them in beauty, nearly all the Odontoglossa are exceedingly local, and in this way two of the most beautiful species eluded discovery for many years, even in a region supposed to be well explored by collectors'' (Introduction). ''Fitch here shows incredible ability in dealing with complicated botanical specimens'' (Blunt, Great Flower Books).
Rare: ABPC records only the De Belder copy at auction. Bauer was a noted Austrian botanical artist who lived and worked in England, especially Kew, from 1788. According to the prospectus, the sketches for the present work were begun in 1791, and “were made with a view to determine both the distinctive characters of genera, and the anatomy and physiology of the organs of fructification of the singular plants they represent”.
A fine collection of shell drawings executed in the style of Thomas Martyn, but later, many sheets showing two specimens. The final drawing is unfinished, and carries the pencilled note “Aunt Mary’s last drawing, left upon the board. ED.”
Darwin was the editor of this important work, published in 5 parts over a number of years. In this part on mammals he personally contributed the geographical introduction and distribution notes throughout.
A fine copy of the scarcest of Elliot’s major monographs. “Elliot was not his own painter, except among the Pittas. Early in his career, in 1863, he had brought out his book on the Pittidae, or Ant-Thrushes with plates of a delightful... character, after his own drawings” (Fine Bird Books). Elliot's chosen illustrator, Paul Louis Oudart, died after completing only 3 plates, and rather than risk a hurried instruction to another artist, Elliot “felt compelled to turn draughtsman myself” (preface) and executed all of the other drawings, bar one each by Maubert and Mesnel. The illustrations and indeed the birds themselves represent the pinnacle of Elliot's pictorial work. When a second edition of this work was issued most of the plates were redrawn by John Gould's artist, William Hart, and the text was completely rewritten.
A rare work on the fish of Scandinavia: one other copy listed as having sold at auction in the past thirty years. The work is notable for its series of fine hand-coloured lithographs, the work of Wilhelm von Wright (1810-1887). He was a Finnish-born natural history painter, illustrator and lithographer of rare talent. The middle of three brothers who made their living as painters, illustrators or naturalists, he moved to Stockholm in 1828 to assist his eldest brother Magnus with his work Svenska Foglar. The publication of the present work began in 1836 and was completed with the help of his younger brother Ferdinand in 1857. One of the great early works on the ichthyology of northern Europe, it was issued in ten parts (including the supplement) with the plates either uncoloured or finely hand-coloured (as here).
LITERATURE cf. British Library, online database of bookbindings, shelfmarks 'c48g12' and 'Davis261'; W. Loring Andrews, An English XIX Century Sportsman, Bibliophile and Binder of Angling Books; Ellis Howe, A List of London Bookbinders, 1648-1815 (1950), p.41; H.M. Nixon, Five Centuries of English Bookbinding, p.88; C. Ramsden, London Bookbinders, p.73; Schwerdt IV, p.40 (and see plate on facing page) and cf. I, p.213An extraordinary production, with plates printed from buttons: this copy from the collection of one of the founders of the Grolier Club and the author of one of the earliest works on Gosden, English XIX Century Sportsman, Bibliophile and Binder of Angling Books (New York, 1906). Schwerdt had two copies of this rare work and described his morocco-bound copy, which is closest to the present example, as a large paper copy with proof impressions on India paper." The British Library also has two copies, both of which are the same size as the present example. Both are bound in calf with tooling that appears to be identical to both the Schwerdt copy and the present work. One of the British Library copies (Davis 261) includes the ticket of the binder Lloyd. The presence of this ticket and the identical nature of the tooling seem to suggest that Lloyd, probably working to Thomas Gosden's design, was the binder of the present work. However, Gosden, who described himself as a "Bookbinder, Publisher, and Bookseller," was undoubtedly responsible, either as a binder or a designer, for some of the most characteristic and recognisable bindings of the period, and the present work is a prime example. According to Howard Nixon, Loring Andrews (an earlier owner of this work) "was doubtful whether Gosden was a binder himself, but Ellic Howe's researches make it clear that he was" (Five Centuries of English Book Binding, p.198). This was supported by Ramsden's work.