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Lot 17

Pulled from Banks’ Original Copper Plates

17. [COOK’S FIRST VOYAGE]. BANKS, Joseph, Sydney Parkinson & Daniel Solander. Captain Cook’s Florilegium: A Selection of Engravings from the Drawings of Plants Collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Captain Cook’s First Voyage to the Islands of the Pacific, with Accounts of the Voyage by W. Blunt and of the Botanical Exploration and Prints by W. T. Stearn. [London]: Lion and Unicorn Press, 1973. Text printed in various ink colors, 30 uncolored engravings on thick hand-made paper. Folio (64 x 49 cm), original black Nigerian goatskin and Japanese silk. Preserved in original black cloth felt-lined clamshell case (by Zaehnsdorf). Very fine with rich, dark impressions, tissue guards, as issued, with prospectus (lightly browned), list of subscribers, and other ephemera laid in. Provenance: Anthony Rota.

     First edition, limited edition (#56 of 100 copies, fully subscribed). Beddie 935. Stafleu V, p. 852. See also Joy Law, Captain Cook's Florilegium: A Note on its Production (Lion & Unicorn Press, 1976).

     The story of the appearance of these plates, based on drawings made during the first voyage, is one of fortunate preservation. Botanist Sir Joseph Banks, upon his return to England from Cook’s first voyage, commissioned copperplate engravings of artwork done by him, Daniel Solander, and Sydney Parkinson (see Item 15 herein). More than seven hundred plates were cut and proofs were taken, but the project never got beyond that stage, and the plates ended up in the British Museum. In 1900-1905, a series of 318 plates based on the proofs produced by lithography appeared under the general title Illustrations of Australian Plants. It was not until the present edition, however, that any plates were pulled from the original copper plates. Produced after over twelve years of planning, as discussed by Law, this work is considered one of the finest botanical books ever printed. ($10,000-20,000)

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