2004 Donation

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The McDermott Library’s copy of Flora Londinensis is an exceptionally clean first edition that is virtually free from transfers.

Printed in 1777, it features more than 400 hand-colored engraved plates. No more than 300 were produced, and the McDermott volume is one of the few surviving complete copies. It also marks the library's one-millionth acquisition to its holdings.


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    Trifolium Agraium
    (2011-04-07) Dallas Garden Club
    One of the great names in botany, William Curtis (1746- 99), was a pharmacist, botanist and entomologist. He set up a botanical garden of British plants at Bermondsey in 1771. Two years later, he was appointed demonstrator of plants at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Although the stated purpose of the Flora Londinensis is to depict plants growing within a 10-mile radius of London, the work is much more comprehensive in scope than its title suggests, for it embraces most of the English flora. As a result, it should be regarded as the first color-plate national flora. It is an impressive work with handsome engraved illustrations and wonderfully rich coloring. It contains some of James Sowerby’s first botanical illustrations as well as the work of William Kilburn, Sydenham Edwards, Francis Sansom and perhaps other unsigned illustrators. By the 1790’s, Sowerby was considered to be the finest botanical artist in England. Flora Londinensis was not a financial success and was cut short for lack of subscriptions. No more than 300 of any single signature are believed to have been printed. The work, nonetheless, was appreciated by Curtis’ fellow naturalists. Because the book normally was put under considerable pressure during binding, many copies show color and ink transfers. The McDermott Library edition was not pressed and is virtually free of transfers.
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