The Orchid Album,
comprising coloured figures and descriptions of new, rare, and beautiful orchidaceous plants. The coloured figures by John Nugent Fitch.London: B. S. Williams at the Victoria and Paradise Nurseries, 1882-97 Stock Code: 119040
"Orchidelirium"First edition of this magnificent work, one of the great orchid books of the nineteenth century; bibliographies call for 528 plates but overlook the fact that the only folding plate (which appears in volume I) is double-numbered as 9-10 - this is a complete set and includes the four-page obituary for Benjamin Samuel Williams in volume IX.
The Orchid Album was published at the height of the "Orchidelirium" which had been building in Britain for some decades, but which seized the imaginations of late Victorian horticulturists in the same way that the tulip craze inflamed the minds of collectors in Golden Age Holland. Anna Pavord writes "Some of the grander Victorian growers, such as the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in Derbyshire and the Duke of Northumberland at Syon House in Middlesex, employed their own collectors, but orchid fanciers like John Day acquired their best treasures at auction. Nurserymen such as James Veitch, Conrad Loddiges and Benjamin Samuel Williams of the Victoria and Paradise Nurseries in Upper Holloway, regularly sent consignments of orchids to be auctioned by Messrs Stevens of King St, Covent Garden. It was in their sale room that, after an epic battle with a fellow enthusiast, Sir Trevor Lawrence, a contemporary of Day's, acquired the one single plant of Aerides lawrenciae imported by Frederick Sander from the Philippines" (in review of A Very Victorian Passion: The Orchid Paintings of John Day, Independent, 29 May 2004).
The stunning plates are the work of John Nugent Fitch (1840-1927), nephew of Walter Hood Fitch: "Fitch's work was more flamboyant than that of such predecessors as Ehret, Redouté, or the Bauer brothers, combining botanical accuracy with a flair for page design. In Britain and Europe he had little competition, being rivalled only by the Frenchman Alfred Riocreux" (ODNB).
A particularly attractive set, in the bright original cloth bindings.
11 volumes quarto. Original brown fine diagonal-rib cloth, gilt lettered spines and front covers, spines and front covers with floriate panelling in blind & black (back covers stamped in blind), untrimmed, endpapers yellow coated or with a pale grey or brown floriate pattern.
527 fine hand-coloured lithograph or chromolithograph plates (with tissue guards) by John Nugent Fitch (one double-numbered folding plate in volume I), some with tinted backgrounds; chromolithograph plate (Cypripedium Charlesworthii) from another work ins
Bookseller's ticket of David Bryce & Son, Glasgow. Rear joint of volume I split at foot but sound, scattered foxing to letterpress, plates clean and fresh. A very good set.
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