EDWARDS, John (1742- after 1812)
The British Herbal, containing one hundred plates of the most beautiful and scarce flowers and useful medicinal plants which blow in the open air of Great Britain, accurately coloured from nature with their botanical characters, and short account of their cultivation
London: Printed for the author, -1770. Folio. (17 7/8 x 11 1/4 inches). , 50 pp. 100 hand-coloured engraved plates by Edwards.
Contemporary mottled calf, rebacked retaining portions of the original spine, repairs at corners, endpapers renewed.
One of the most highly artistic flower books of the eighteenth century.
It is likely that the illustrations were coloured by Edwards himself, as he not only made the drawings, but also etched and engraved the majority of the plates. Born in 1742, Edwards was both a book-illustrator and an artist for the calico-printing industry. He specialised in flower studies, and his works were exhibited at the Society of Artists and the Royal Academy.
Described by Henrey as "an outstanding folio volume", Edwards' work is not really a herbal at all "as a number of the species figured have no medical interest, and without doubt the plants were chosen for their decorative value" (Henrey, 2:17-18). There are various issues of the first edition as the work was originally issued in monthly parts. The present example is with the second issue title, as usual. A second edition, retitled A Select Collection of 100 Plates was published in 1775.
Dunthorne 104; Great Flower Books ( 1990) p.93; Henrey II. p.17 and III, 675; Nissen BBI 578; Pritzel 2620; Stafleu TL2 1624; cf. L. Tongiorgi Tomasi An Oak Spring Flora 64.