A fine selection of books from the library of a south-coast Gentleman will be offered in Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions' sale on Thursday 27th February. Displaying the owner's passion for natural history, the collection includes an extremely rare and complete hand-coloured florilegium of Abraham Munting’s posthumously published Naauwkeurige Beschryving der Aargewassen.
Naauwkeurige Beschryving der Aargewassen broke botanical publication stereotypes when it was first produced in 1696 for its portrayal of ‘larger than life’ plants in classical, idyllic or mountainous landscapes. This was a radical change from the traditional, isolated image of the plant.
Munting was professor of Botany at the University of Groningen, and the director of ‘Paradise of Groningen’, a botanical garden founded by his father in 1642. Under Munting the garden grew considerably to one of the most extensive of the period and became famous throughout Europe as a place of horticultural pilgrimage.
Munting’s death in 1683 prevented him from completing Naauwkeurige Beschryving der Aargewassen, however in 1696 it was published with the line drawings he had commissioned from artists. This copy, with full hand-colouring from a later date, is estimated to achieve £10,000-15,000. [Lot 52]
A later botanical work by Robert John Thornton, The Temple of Flora or Garden of the Botanist, Poet, Painter and Philosopher, 1812, is believed to be one of the greatest flower books. This second edition was produced in a smaller and more manageable format quarto size rather than the larger folio first edition. It is estimated to sell for £4,000-6,000. [Lot 69]
Other important works in the botanical section include Philip Miller’s Figures of the most Beautiful…Plants and The Gardener’s and Botanist’s Dictionary, 1807, together estimated at £7,000-10,000 [Lot 49]; and Miss J. Smith’s Studies of Flowers from Nature 1818, a work that was issued in order to educate the leisured classes in the art of flower and watercolour painting from nature. The uncoloured duplicate plates were intended for beginners to practice on, with full instructions on which paints should be used in order to achieve a naturalistic image of the original. It is estimated at £6,000-8,000. [Lot 61]
Elsewhere in the sale is one of the most beautiful and comprehensive works on butterflies, a first edition of Papillons d’Europe in 8 volumes by Marie Dominique Joseph Engramelle.
The book was issued in instalments to a list of subscribers during the French Revolution, from 1779-1792. According to the list printed in part III, subscribers to Papillons d’Europe included French physician and lawyer Pierre Joseph Buchoz and French geologist Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond along with royalty and nobility. This rare limited edition is complete and is estimated to achieve £10,000-15,000. [Lot 79]
William Buckler’s The Larvae of British Butterflies and Moths, 1886-1899, is a particularly rare example from the unusual books on insects and butterflies, with only one known copy selling at auction in the last 40 years. The nine volume work includes 164 lithographed plates and is estimated at £300-400. [Lot 77]