Carnations Cultivated by Richard Hammond of Coddenham in the County of Suffolk.[Ipswich: John Bagnall,] 1733 Stock Code: 138840
An incredible and personal insight into early 18th-century floristry and religious teachings, with numerous hand drawn illustrationsA remarkable manuscript volume proudly detailing 84 varieties of carefully curated carnations accompanied by a number of reflective religious discourses. The unique work, which has been provided with a locally printed title page, contains 18 meticulously if naively hand-drawn and captioned illustrations depicting carnations, a campanula pyramidalis, and a damask and white rose. Richard Hammond (1692-1773) was a shoemaker known locally as a "staunch churchman with anti-nonconformist sentiments" and amateur florist specialising in the propagation of carnations. His leading role in local floristry is exemplified in his hosting a "Meeting of Florists" on 30 July 1734 at a pub called the Crown in his hometown of Coddenham, one of many 'Florist Feasts' held in the county which combined showcasing new breeds and convivial drinking (Way, p.70). He competed in several flower shows from 1720 into the 1740s, and in July 1743 is known to have won a wig "of fifteen shillings value given gratis to those that show the compleatestsic carnation of their own" (Blatchly, p. 306). Across the 18th century interest in botany was flourishing in England with increasingly exotic species becoming available to the middling-classes such as Hammond. This list therefore supplies a valuable look at which varieties were available to, and prized by, those such as him in early 18th-century society.
The main body of the work alternates between Hammond's intricate illustrations to the versos and his detailed text to the rectos. It is divided into three sections: a listing of the carnations; nine pages of homilies (including "King John's reply to one of his soliciting courtiers", "The Pagans description of fame", and "The applause of great drinking reproved"); and a list of the other flowers grown by Hammond in 1733. This final section is divided into annuals (including tulips, holyhock, and yellow lupins), perennials (scarlet lychnis, auricula, and sweet William) and roses (damask, cinnamon, and velvet). There is an initial eight pages of manuscript preceding the title page which relate to the homilies in the main text and provide further, and touching insight into Hammond's religious and philosophical beliefs. These include "A precaution against tomorrow's evils", "A brother's admonition to his sister upon her breaking a glass" and a poignant note "On the death of his son William", who died aged 16, the last of Hammond's children, all of whom died in childhood. This final note, read together with a later discussion titled "Advice to parents to take well the death of their children" allows us to see Hammond's active contemplation of his life's misfortunes within his specific social and religious context.
The style of writing, which uses "one or two choice Suffolk words... is far too much his own for him to face a charge of copying the work of others. Most pieces seem to spring from personal experience and straight from the heart" (Blatchly, p. 311). This is clear in both the homilies and botanical illustrations, for example in the relatable drawing "O Look what the earwig have done!" which depicts a carnation with half its petals falling around it, the culpable earwig shown in the centre. Hammond carefully makes note of his suppliers throughout, prefacing the listed varieties with relevant initials or surnames, for example those supplied by the noted nurseryman Henry Woodman of Chiswick bear a "W", "Parker" denoting tulip grower Thomas Parker, and "Potter" meaning Potter of Mitcham, who was primarily associated with herb growing, especially lavender. Together this combination of Hammond's most cherished pastime and his deeply personal religious understanding allows us a glimpse into "the real life of the early 18th-century Church of England in Suffolk, very little documented otherwise and undervalued since" (ibid., p. 312).
Though unmarked as such this work is from the library of Martin Orskey, a noted book collector and dealer known for his eye for distinctive and unusual rarities such as this.
Octavo (160 x 110 mm), pp. . Red morocco binding reconstructed to style around the surviving front board which has the title and author's initials blocked in gilt within geometric frames, the central one a floral border, and an outer frame in blind, marbled endpapers. Housed in a red cloth flat-back box by the Chelsea Bindery.
With 18 hand-drawn watercolour illustrations. Printed title page. Text in manuscript in red and black ink within red frames.
Boards rubbed and a little scuffed, gilt fading, abrasion to front pastedown, inner hinges starting, book block remaining firm, light pencil marks to margins, contents faintly foxed, occasional nicks to edges, closed tear to foot of pp. 23-4, those at final two leafs neatly repaired; overall well-preserved in very good condition, the colour to illustrations bright and striking.
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