A Collection of Exotics

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One of the rarest of the American Floras

[BYAM, Lydia]: A Collection of Exotics, from the Island of Antigua. London, 1797.

Folio, 5 leaves comprising title and dedication, 12 hand-coloured unsigned aquatint plates, title slightly soiled. Modem half-calf and contemporary marbled boards. The Robert de Belder copy (Sotheby’s, London, 1987).

FIRST EDITION of a very rare botanical book from the library of Robert de Belder, creator of one of the greatest collections of botanical books in the world and founder of the Arboretum Kalmthout in Belgium. Lydia Byam was the elder sister of the Governor of Antigua, William Gunthorpe. This work was printed again in 1798 and 1799.

The scarcity especially of complete copies in this good condition, is seen in the fact that of the two in the Natural History Museum, one lacks 7 of the 12 plates, while the other has its margins trimmed away and a broken binding (our copy is well-margined). Besides the Natural History Museum, there are no other known institutional holdings in Britain, and we know of only one copy of the second edition (at the Wellcome Institute). OCLC WorldCat lists three locations only of the present printing in the US (National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hamilton College Library, New York Public Library). No further copies on RLG.

Hunt 749: ‘One of the rarest of American floras; not listed by Pritzel, Jackson, Dunthorne, Nissen or Great Flower Books . . . The charming delicately engraved plates are an example of good representations of American flora which in some instances antedate the earliest colour plates of these subjects listed by Pritzel and Stapf’.