RESERVED - SANDER, Henry Frederick Conrad (1847-1920)
Reichenbachia. Orchids illustrated and described
St.Albans: J.French for F.Sander & Co., H.Sotheran & Co. of London, Paul Parey of Berlin, [etc.]. 4 volumes in 8, large folio. (26 x 20 inches). Text in English, French and German, plates mounted on card throughout, half-titles. 192 hand-finished chromolithographic plates drawn on stone by Joseph Mansell (124), Gustav Leutzsch (62), J.L. Macfarlane (3) and Gustav Leutzsch's successors (3), after Henry G. Moon (178), Walter Hood Fitch (2), A.H. Loch (4), Georg Hansen (1), Chas. Storer (1), T. Walton (1), J.L. Macfarlane (3) and 2 unsigned, printed by Joseph Mansell (124), Gustav Leutzsch (62), M. & N. Hanhart (3) and Gustav Leutzsch's successor (3).
Contemporary full morocco gilt
Provenance: John Pierpont Morgan (morocco booklabel)
Very rare deluxe Imperial Edition on card of this truly imposing and authoritative work on orchids illustrated with life-size plates: Sander's great monument and one of the greatest of all flower books, this copy from the library of J. P. Morgan.
It was named in honour of Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1824-1889), ornithologist, botanist and celebrated orchidologist. After a lifetime largely devoted to Orchids, Reichenbach's death during the publication of the present work caused controversy when it was revealed that he had left his herbarium and library to the natural history museum in Vienna, on the condition that the preserved orchids and orchid drawings were not to be consulted for 25 years after his death. Born in Bremen in 1865, Sander came to Britain in 1847 and worked in nurseries in Forest Hill. He had started his own independent business by 1874 and opened the famous St. Albans establishment in 1881. The firm was later expanded with establishments in both America and Belgium. The present work covers the period when the firm was at its most active: a contemporary work notes that in the spring of 1894 Sander's had twenty orchid collectors working simultaneously in Brazil, Columbia, Peru Ecuador, Mexico, Madagascar, New Guinea, Burma and Malaya. (see Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Cecil, A History of Gardening in England, 1910, pp. 281-282.) In the introduction Sander explains that "the growing popularity of Orchids, and the ever-increasing demand for information respecting them, is sufficient reason for issuing the present work. It will be our aim to represent truthfully the natural aspect of the plants, which will be drawn life size...Some of the plant portraits will be coloured by lithography, others will be hand painted when found expedient...It is our intention to illustrate all classes of the Orchid family." The majority of the plates are from originals by Moon, and most are orientated vertically (165 portrait plates) as opposed to horizontally (26 landscape plates). Henry George Moon (1857-1905), born in London, spent much of his career working for William Robinson at The Garden and later at Flora and Sylva. "His most celebrated illustrations were made for Frederick Sander's great orchid book Reichenbachia...[His] drawings were intended to help the gardener determine what effect plants would have in cultivation, rather than to help the botanist in identification. His work had a great impact on British plant drawing in the early twentieth century; artists such as E.A. Bowles, Dorothy Martin, and Lillian Snelling in her early days all show his influence." (B. Elliott, Treasures of the Royal Horticultural Society, 1994, p. 114.) "By modern standards the work was of a monstrous size...the care lavished on Reichenbachia still provokes astonishment. Apart from the elegance of Moon's drawings, the technical standards would have been a tribute to any large printing house. The blocks were hand-made, out of wood; and the chromolithographs were produced by the use of as many as twenty inks. The cost to Sander was enormous...It is no wonder that Sander often remarked in later years that the project almost ruined him" (A. Swinson, Frederick Sander: The Orchid King, 1970) Referred to by contemporary advertisements as the Imperial Edition, only 100 sets were done in the present deluxe format, with the plates hand-finished and mounted on card. Published in 48 parts over nine years, at the time of publication the regular edition cost 7s.6d per part, while the Imperial Edition was sold at £1.1s per part; the present set from the library of J. P. Morgan, one of few individuals who could afford the complete set at the time of publication.
BM(NH) IV, p. 1800; Great Flower Books (1990) p. 135; Nissen BBI 1722; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 10.219.