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: C.C.Little & Jas. Brown and Hovey & Co. and D.Appleton & Co. in New York, [no date, but circa 1847-1852]. Volume I only, large octavo. (10 1/2 x 7 1/8 inches). Half-title, title with wood-engraved vignettes. Lithographic portrait frontispieces of Hovey (on india paper mounted, the mount backed onto thin card, 48 chromolithographic plates by William Sharp & Son (1-12 on thick paper backed onto thin card, 13-24 on thick paper (as usual); 25-48 on india paper mounted onto thin card), numerous woodcut illustrations of trees, flowers and fruit.
Contemporary black half morocco over purple cloth-covered boards, spine in five compartments with wide semi-raised bands, lettered in the second and fourth compartments
An extraordinary, possibly unique copy of the first volume from the most lavish ante-bellum work on the fruit trees of America, "the first major work executed entirely in chromolithography" (Reese): here with the plates on India paper and mounted to card.
The 48 varieties featured include pear, apple, cherry, peach, plum and strawberries. The plates were all executed by the Boston firm headed by William Sharp. The extraordinary feature of the present selection is that it includes plates presented in three forms: two of which are different from the usually encountered plates. The first 12 and the final 24 plates are all in an unusual form, printed on India paper and mounted. The reason for the plates printed in this fashion is not clear, but a possible explanation is that this volume represents an early trial in the printing of the plates. The images 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. 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, although there is also a New York edition that is considered complete with only 48 plates.
Cf. Oak Spring Pomona 61.