August 2016 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Captain Cook's Deluxe Florilegium

Coming to auction next week in Edinburgh is a deluxe, large folio edition of Captain Cook's Florilegium: A Selection of Engravings from the Drawings of Plants collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Captain Cook's first Voyage to the Islands of the Pacific (The Lion and Unicorn Press, 1973).

205578.jpgAuctioneers Lyon & Turnbull explain the work's importance, published more than two hundred years after Cook's 1768-1771 expedition:

"...[I]ts publication reproduces for the first time some of the engraved plates of Australian plants made under the supervision of Sir Joseph Banks. Apart from a proof impression no prints were made from the plates selected here for publication, the original copper-engraved plates, the original drawings, the specimens used for the drawings and the proof impressions all being held by the British Museum. In the 1960s it was decided that the Royal College of Art should print a selection of the most beautiful plates. The superbly printed rich impressions in strong black ink make this one of the finest botanical books produced in the twentieth century."

Only 10 copies like this exist, containing 42 plates, bound in green goatskin with gilt stamping and incorporating an actual botanical specimen (encapsulated in acrylic) from Botany Bay, Australia. This one is no. 8.  

The auction estimate is £8,000-10,000 ($10,600-13,200).

Image via Lyon & Turnbull.