A botanical guide to the flowering plants, ferns, mosses and algae, found indigenous within sixteen miles of Manchester;
with some information as to their agricultural, medicinal, and other uses... together with a sketch of the author's life; and remarks on the geology of the district.London: Longman and Co., Abel Heywood, Manchester, 1849 Stock Code: 145812
First edition, attractively bound for presentation to Prince Albert, inscribed on the first blank, "To His Royal Highness Prince Albert with the Authors dutiful regards". It is annotated in a second hand below: "not sent to H.R.H but presented by Mr. Binney to the Rev. Henry M. Birch, Rector of Prestwich, of which place the author was a native. March 1868".
The author, Richard Buxton (1786-1865), was barely literate when he was apprenticed to a children's shoemaker at 12 years old. He taught himself to read when he was 16 and later in his life became a renowned botanist, "widely admired for his botanical skills (William Jackson Hooker was eager to acquire him as a herbarium assistant at Kew)" (ODNB). In 1849 the geologist and philanthropist Edward William Binney (1812-1882) encouraged him "to publish a Manchester flora, to which Binney anonymously contributed a geological preface" (ODNB). Binney later called him "the most profound thinker of his class" (Cash, p. 94).
Three years after Buxton's death, Binney presented this work to the Rev. Henry Birch (1820-1884), who had been chaplain to Queen Victoria and tutor to the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), before being appointed Rector of Prestwich, at that time the richest living in England, in 1852. Two months after this volume was presented to him, he was appointed by the Crown to a canonry in Ripon Cathedral.
Buxton became better known for the autobiography he included in this volume "in which he acknowledged many working-men botanists as well as outlining his own botanical development" (ODNB). His botanical collection is housed in the Botany School of the University of Oxford.
Octavo (188 x 115 mm). Contemporary red morocco-grain roan by Wilde Brothers, Manchester, spine with five raised bands each decorated with a single gilt fillet, second compartment lettered in gilt, other compartments richly decorated with central thistle motif in gilt, sides with border of trefoils and paired gilt fillets enclosing a frame of scrolling foliate tools and dots, edges and turn-ins gilt, pale yellow coated endpapers.
A very good copy, spine somewhat rubbed, small spot of wear to rear joint, internally clean, in an attractive binding.
James Cash, Science in the Cottage: An Account of the Labours of Naturalists in Humble Life, 2011; for the binder Wilde Brothers, see Charles Ramsden, Bookbinders of the United Kingdom (Outside London) 1780-1840, p. 174.
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