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Presentation copy to the colorist of the plates in Fitzgerald's study on Australian orchids,
seldomly found complete

FITZGERALD, Robert Desmond.
Australian orchids.
Sydney, Thomas Richards (vol. 1, part 1-2, 4-7; vol. 2, part 1-2), Charles Potter (vol. 1, part 3; vol. 2, part 4 & 5) & George Stephan Chapman (vol. 2, part 4), [1875--1894]. 12 parts in 2 volumes (vol. 1: part 1-7; vol. 2: part 1-5). Large folio (ca. 50 x 34 cm). With 118 lithographed plates (10 double-page) all but 1 coloured by a contemporary hand in watercolour. The plates were all drawn by Fitzgerald and lithographed by himself and Arthur J. Stopps. All plates are interleaved with accompanying letterpress descriptions. Contemporary half cloth in a uniform style (various colours) with the original publisher's wrappers (also in various colours: yellow, green, blue, turquoise) mounted on the cloth. The 12 volumes are preserved in 20th-century green cloth boxes with a uniform black morocco spine label. 118 plates plus letterpress descriptions.
€ 18,000
First edition of one of the earliest studies on Australian orchids, by Robert Desmond Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald (1830-1892) was an Australian deputy surveyor-general and botanical artist of Irish birth, who lived in Sydney from 1856. He is best known for his present Australian orchids, containing descriptions of Australian orchid species, some described here for the first time. Although some sources give his middle name as David or Douglas, Desmond seems to be correct. The work was issued in 12 parts from 1875 to 1894, the last completed posthumously from Fitzgerald's notes by Henry Deane.
The present copy is Fitzgeralds presentation copy for Miss Macpherson, the colourist of a large number of the plates, with an inscription by Fitzgerald addressed to her on the first leaf of the first part of volume 1: "Miss Macpherson, from Robert Fitzgerald with thanks for assistance". Also included are two letters, written by one of Miss Macphersons heirs to a prospective buyer.
Most quires have come loose from the sewing supports some dark spots in the gutter margin caused by the cords. Some plates in parts 4 and 5 of vol. 2 are trimmed a little shorter than the others, some foxing and staining (especially vol. 1, part 1), but overall a set in good condition. The book remarkable not only because it is a presentation copy for Miss Macpherson, the colourist, but also because it is complete: "complete copies of the book are now very rare" (Stafleu & Cowan). BM NH II, p. 580, col. 1; Ferguson V, 9623 (vol. 1 only); Great flower books, p. 94; Nissen BBI 633; Stafleu & Cowan 1799..
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Australia, new zealand & pacific  >  Natural History
Natural history  >  Floras & Flowering Plants