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A colour botanical engraving, in a window mount, showing "MITRASACME AMBIGUA".
The Banks' Florilegium was published by Alecto Historical Editions (London) in association with the British Museum (Natural History) between 1980 and 1990. Each of the 100 sets that comprise the edition consists of seven hundred and forty three botanical line engravings, after the watercolours drawn from nature by Sydney Parkinson recording the plants collected by Joseph Banks and Dr Daniel Carl Solander during their voyage round the world on HMB 'Endeavour' with Lieutenant James Cook, 1768-1771. Each set is divided into 35 parts and housed in Solander Boxes. Each print or sheet within the set is identified by a blind embossed stamp on the recto, recording the publisher's and printer's chops (ie: their signatures), the copyright symbol and date. The initials of the individual printer, the plate number and the edition number are recorded in pencil. The plate-marks are virtually uniform in size: 18 x 12 inches (457 x 305 mm), and the paper is Somerset mould-made 300gsm, each sheet watermarked 'AHE' and produced specially for this edition by the Inveresk Paper Company. The sheet of paper on which the image is printed measures 28 ½ x 21 inches (724 x 556 mm), and each of the engravings is protected within a double-fold sheet of the same acid free paper which has been cut to form a window mount. Every print includes watercolour embellishments added by artists working directly from Banks' own notes. The condition of the Museum's set, No 5/100, is excellent.
The Banks' Florilegium records and celebrates the botanical discoveries made during the first voyage of scientific discovery undertaken by Britain's Royal Navy. In addition to the vast collections of botanical and zoological specimens created, astronomical observations made and accurate maps compiled during HMB Endeavour's voyage to the Pacific, the east coast of Australia was mapped and claimed for the British Crown, leading 18 years later to the establishment of a colony in New South Wales. Joseph Banks, who financed and led the natural history contingent onboard the Endeavour, planned to publish the botanical results of the voyage in a 14 volume folio work. He hired artists to complete Sydney Parkinson's drawings and engaged a team of 18 engravers to create the copperplates. The project took 12 years and was then put aside by Banks who was by now President of the Royal Society and closely involved with the Royal Horticultural Society, Kew Gardens, the British Museum and was a friend of and unofficial advisor to the King. Sir Joseph, as he became in 1781, would go on to serve as a member of the Board of Longitude, the Coin Committe and the Privy Council's Committee for Trade, and Plantations, and his wealth, social position and extraordinary range of contacts within the political, scientific, manufacturing and diplomatic spheres made him one of the most influential figures of his day. Although the Florilegium was not published during his lifetime, he took steps for its preservation and made the drawings, notes and specimens upon which it is based available to interested visitors to the Herbarium he maintained at his home.
W 573mm x H 740mm
Date of publication
Date of voyage