Item #5000707 A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland… The figures by James Sowerby. James Edward SMITH.
A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland… The figures by James Sowerby.
A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland… The figures by James Sowerby.
A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland… The figures by James Sowerby.

A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland…
A Specimen of the Botany of New Holland… The figures by James Sowerby.

London: James Sowerby, 1793.

Quarto, with 16 finely coloured engraved plates; half calf, marbled boards, entirely uncut.

Australia's unique botany: the first book

The first separately published book on Australian botany. The Specimen of the Botany of New Holland contains the first illustrations of a number of Australian species, including the waratah. According to a note in the preface the drawings on which the fine hand-coloured plates were based were done in the colony by John White, the Surgeon-General, who was a keen amateur natural history artist and collector. White's own Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, published in 1790, celebrated the new colony's ornithology in particular.

The first separately published book on Australian botany. The Specimen of the Botany of New Holland contains the first illustrations of a number of Australian species, including the waratah. According to a note in the preface the drawings on which the fine hand-coloured plates were based were done in the colony by John White, the Surgeon-General, who was a keen amateur natural history artist and collector. White's own Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, published in 1790, celebrated the new colony's ornithology in particular.

The Preface states that this work is "An Attempt to make the Public acquainted with some of the productions of a country of which they have lately heard so much, and in which they are now so deeply interested… the present work must be considered… a Specimen of this mine of botanical novelty". The illustrations were prepared not only from drawings supplied from Sydney but also from the "most copious and finely preserved collection of dried specimens…" that came with them from New South Wales.

The period of European settlement in Australia was also a time of fine book production in Europe; the wide public interest in natural sciences meant that the illustrated books published during the period were not only factual but often exceptionally beautiful.

James Edward Smith was one of the leading naturalists in England and the author of several outstanding botanical books. In 1788 he founded, and was the first President of, the Linnean Society which became a meeting place for botanists and a significant reference source as Smith had, for the Society, acquired the collections and library of the famous Swedish naturalist, Linnaeus.

Sir Joseph Banks was a close colleague of Smith, and James Sowerby (1740-1803), the artist of these superb plates, was one of the foremost botanical artists, who exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy. The collaboration between these great naturalists ensured that Australia's first illustrated flower book was among the finest of the period.

This is a lovely copy of a rare and important book.

::

Ferguson, 170; Nissen, 1861; Sitwell and Blunt, 'Great Flower Books', p. 76.

Condition Report: A very good copy.

Price (AUD): $58,500.00

US$39,401.29   Other currencies

Ref: #5000707

Condition Report