BARTON, William Paul Crillon (1786-1856)
A Flora of North America. Illustrated by coloured figures, drawn from nature
Philadelphia: vol.I: M. Carey & Sons; vol.II & III: H.C. Carey & I. Lea, [1820-]1821-1823[-1824]. 3 volumes, quarto. (10 9/16 x 8 5/16 inches). Half-titles in each volume. To Subscribers leaf in vol.II. 106 hand-coloured engraved plates (two folding), including some partially printed in colours and finished by hand, from drawings by the author, by Cornelius Tiebout (29), G.B. Ellis (32), F. Kearney (23), J. Boyd (7), J. Drayton (6), C. Goodman (6), Jacob J. Plocher (2) and J.L. Frederick (1). (one folding plate partially backed along fold).
Contemporary three quarter calf and marbled boards, spines gilt.
An important American flora, "magnificently illustrated" (DAB) with "Plates [that] are clear, soft and lovely" (Bennett). The work includes the first successful use of stipple-engraving in the United States. This set includes the rare 'To Subscribers' leaf in Volume II.
In addition to its significance as a botanical work, Barton's Flora is also one of the most important early colour-plate books entirely produced in the United States. "The plates were made by [amongst others] Cornelius Tiebout, the first skilled engraver born in the United States, although he trained in London for two years in the 1790's to perfect his technique." (Reese, Stamped with a National Character p. 40). Barton states in the advertisement to the first volume that some of the "plates are printed in colour, and are afterwards coloured by hand. It is confidently believed by the author, that they will be found the most successful attempts at imitation by sound engraving, of the French style, yet made in this country." He goes on to note that the method of colour printing was the result of "repeated experiments" owing "to the impossibility of obtaining information as to the manner of colouring abroad." The text gives details of each species, its Latin binomial, common name, and class and order according to the Linnaean system, followed by interesting information about the history of the discovery of the species and details about its geographical range.
BM(NH) I, p.105; Bennett p. 9 (incorrect plate count); Dunthorne 26; Nissen BBI 84; MacPhail Benjamin Smith Barton and William Crillon Barton 19; Meisel III, p.385; Pritzel 446; Reese Stamped with a National Character 11; Sabin 3858; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 236.