MILLER, Philip (1691-1771)
Figures of the Most Beautiful, Useful and Uncommon Plants Described in the Gardeners Dictionary exhibited on three hundred copper plates, accurately engraved after drawings taken from nature, with the characters of their flowers and seed vessels, drawn when they were in their greatest perfection
London: Printed for the Author; and sold by John Rivington [and others], -60. 2 volumes, folio. (16 1/2 x 10 3/4 inches). Engraved allegorical headpiece to the dedication leaf after and by J. S. Miller, woodcut headpiece and initial-frame. 300 hand-coloured engraved plates (two folding) after G. D. Ehret, J. Bartram, W. Houston, R. Lancake and J. S. Miller by Miller, T. Jefferys, and J. Mynde. Uncut.
Contemporary marbled paper boards, expertly rebacked to style in tan calf, spine gilt with raised bands. Housed in a slipcase.
A lovely set of the first edition of Miller's illustrated supplement to his overwhelmingly popular Gardeners Dictionary.
While conceived as a complement to an earlier publication, Miller's Figures of ... Plants "is a sufficiently complete work and may be rated on its own merits" (Hunt). In the preface, Miller stated his intention of publishing one figure of a plant for every known genus, but abandoned this in favor of, "...those Plants only, which are either curious in themselves, or may be useful in Trades, Medicine, &c. including the Figures of such new Plants as have not been noticed by any former Botanists."
The plants illustrated were either engraved from drawings of specimens in the Chelsea Physic Garden or drawings supplied by Miller's numerous correspondents, including John Bartram, the Pennsylvania naturalist (cf. plate 272), and Dr. William Houston, who travelled widely in the Americas and West Indies and bequeathed Miller his papers, drawings, and herbarium (cf. plates 44 and 182). For the plants drawn from examples in the Garden, Miller employed Richard Lancake and two of the leading botanical artists and engravers of the period, Georg Dionysius Ehret and Johann Sebastian Miller. Like Miller's Catalogus Plantarum, many of the etched and engraved plates are delicately printed in colour (i.e. green) to give a more life-like impression after hand colouring.
The work was published by subscription in 50 monthly parts, with each part containing 6 plates, between 25 March 1755 and 30 June 1760. Two later editions were published in 1771 and 1809. Complete sets of the first edition are scarce, particularly in such lovely original condition.
Nissen BBI 1378; Great Flower Books p. 121; Dunthorne 209; Henrey 1097; Hunt 566; Stafleu and Cowen TL2 6059; Pritzel 6241.