HOVEY, Charles Mason (1810-1887)
The Fruits of America, containing richly colored figures, and full descriptions of all the choicest varieties cultivated in the United States
Boston & New York: [vol.I] C.C.Little & Jas. Brown and Hovey & Co. and D.Appleton & Co. in New York, [vol.II] Hovey & Co., [1847-]1856. (10 3/4 x 7 1/8 inches). 2pp. subscribers' list. Titles with wood-engraved vignettes. Lithographic portrait frontispieces of Hovey (vol.I) and William Sharp (vol.II), 96 chromolithographic plates by William Sharp & Son, numerous woodcut illustrations of trees, flowers and fruit. (Lacking half-title to vol.I).
Contemporary brown calf over marbled paper-covered boards, spines laid down and gilt in six compartments with raised bands, morocco lettering-pieces in the second and third compartments, the others with elaborate decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt
The most lavish ante-bellum work on the fruit trees of America, 'the first major work executed entirely in chromolithography' (Reese).
The 96 varieties featured include 93 fruit trees (53 pear, 20 apple, 7 cherry, 7 peach and 6 plum) and 3 strawberry varieties. The plates were all executed by the Boston firm headed by William Sharp and are accompanied by text which gives the history of each variety, a full description, its growing habit, flower and fruit, and advice on its cultivation. Each entry is headed by cross-references to the other standard European and American books and periodicals. The illustrations generally comprise a thumb-nail sketch of the growing habit of each tree, an outline of the fruit and occasionally an image of the flower. Charles Hovey was born in Cambridge, Mass. in 1810 and with his brother Phineas established a nursery there in 1832. By 1845 his huge collection of fruit trees included a thousand pear trees and four hundred apple trees. A keen plant breeder, he also produced a number of new varieties of Camellia. His literary output brought him to the forefront of horticultural writers with the American Gardeners' Magazine (renamed the Magazine of Horticulture) which enjoyed great popularity between 1834 and 1868. The present work was intended by Hovey as an international show-case for what American pomologists had achieved, as well as an essential reference guide. It is his masterpiece and originally appeared in parts between 1847 and 1856 and is considered complete in two volumes with 96 plates.
Cf. Sabin 33206; cf. Oak Spring Pomona 61; cf. McGrath, p.112; cf. Bennett, p.59.