Banks' Florilegium. The complete Australian section of 337 engravings. Sir Joseph BANKS, Dr Daniel SOLANDER.
Banks' Florilegium. The complete Australian section of 337 engravings.
Banks' Florilegium. The complete Australian section of 337 engravings.

Banks' Florilegium. The complete Australian section of 337 engravings.

London: Alecto Historical Editions in association with the British Museum (Natural History), 1980-1990.

Fifteen original parts containing 337 engravings of plants collected by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander in Australia; printed in colours "à la poupée" from the original 18th century copper plates; the fifteen parts are presented in the original green solander boxes (approximately 787 x 609 x 125 mm).

A supreme example of eighteenth-century European civilisation

One of the finest botanical productions of all time: one of only 100 sets prepared. The engravings are from the original plates after Sydney Parkinson, Frederick Polydore Nodder, John Frederick Miller, James Miller, John Cleveley and Thomas Burgis. Banks' Florilegium comprises an astonishing 743 botanical engravings (each approximately 720 x 560 mm) of plants collected by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander in Madeira, Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, the Society Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Java on Captain Cook's first voyage round the world in His Majesty's Bark Endeavour, 1768–1771. This section, comprising parts 1 to 15, contains the 337 plates which represent the complete work for Australia.

One of the finest botanical productions of all time: one of only 100 sets prepared. The engravings are from the original plates after Sydney Parkinson, Frederick Polydore Nodder, John Frederick Miller, James Miller, John Cleveley and Thomas Burgis. Banks' Florilegium comprises an astonishing 743 botanical engravings (each approximately 720 x 560 mm) of plants collected by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Solander in Madeira, Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, the Society Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Java on Captain Cook's first voyage round the world in His Majesty's Bark Endeavour, 1768–1771. This section, comprising parts 1 to 15, contains the 337 plates which represent the complete work for Australia.

On his return to London in 1771, Banks determined to publish a grand scientific record of his botanical collection. Over thirteen years, while Daniel Solander prepared the accompanying botanical texts, Banks employed five artists to complete the field sketches drawn on board ship from the fresh specimens by Sydney Parkinson, and eighteen engravers to create exquisite copper plate line engravings from the drawings. All of the plants included for publication were new to European botany. By 1784 all of the plates had been completed but, for a variety of reasons, Banks delayed publication.

On his death in 1820, having served as President of the Royal Society for forty years and recognized as the great panjandrum of European science, Banks bequeathed his library and herbarium, together with the Florilegium plates, to the British Museum. A hundred and sixty years later the unpublished plates, nearly a ton of finest copper, were found encased in their eighteenth century wrappers, in a cupboard in the Botany Library of the Natural History Museum in London. Joseph Banks, although he had intended to publish them never fulfilled his ambition.

Editions Alecto's initial intention was to print in black, but experiments by the Master Printer, Edward Egerton-Williams showed that superb results could be achieved by printing in colour à la poupée. To ensure that each coloured print was botanically accurate, all colours were agreed and approved by the Botanical Editor at the Natural History Museum, with careful reference to the original watercolours held there. Most plates required small botanical details -- the tips of stamens or the gradation of colours on a flower, for example -- to be painted in by hand by artists using sable brushes.

Each print is encased in a mount which contains the botanical information, together with the date and locality where the specimen was collected, and the names of the artists and engraver who worked on the image.

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Provenance: Private collection New South Wales (an original subscriber).

Condition Report: Original fine condition.

Price (AUD): $48,000.00

US$35,136.01   Other currencies

Ref: #5000584

Condition Report