North American Sylva,
Presentation copies of the first editions in English
With first editions of Nuttall's Three Volume Supplement
three Michaux volumes are inscribed presentation copies to the
Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Agriculture, the first
agricultural society founded in America. (Charter members included
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.) The
inscriptions in volumes I and III are in the hand of John Vaughan, a
prominent wine merchant and patron of the arts and sciences who served
as librarian and secretary of the American Philosophical Society, and
also as president of the Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of
Agriculture. In addition to being a close personal friend and long-time
correspondent of Michaux’s, Vaughan helped Michaux enormously by
personally handling the distribution of The North American Sylva
to prominent individuals, institutions, and booksellers in America.
In a letter dated August 19, 1818,
Michaux instructs Vaughan on the distribution of six presentation copies
(this copy included) of The North American Sylva: "for
you, my dear friend, one in color and one in black; for B. Vaughan, one
in color; for Th. Jefferson, one in color; for Correa de Serra, one in
color; for the society of Agriculture, one in color . . ." The
inscription in volume II matches the hand of the person who took the
minutes of the Society’s meeting on the day the Michaux volumes were
received (September 15, 1818). The minutes from that meeting include the
following: "F. A. Michaux of Paris presented to the Society
through John Vaughan 3 ½ volumes of his North American Sylva . . .
Resolved that John Vaughan be instructed to convey to the donor the
thanks of this Society for his liberal and splendid present."
American Sylva is a landmark in the literature of America. In
addition to being the first significant survey of American trees and
soil, it serves as a fascinating travelogue, providing detailed
portraits of the developing American landscape. With Nuttall’s
supplement, "it is no exaggeration to remark that it is the most
complete work of its kind, and is a production of unrivalled interest
and beauty, giving descriptions and illustrations of all the forest
trees of North America, from the arctic limits of arborescent vegetation
to the confines of the tropical circle" (Sabin 48694-5).
Francois Andre. The North American Sylva, or a Description of Forest
Trees, of the United States, Canada, and Nova Scotia. Paris and
Philadelphia: C. D’Hautel, 1819-18-19. Three volumes (parts 1-7,
complete). With: Nuttall, Thomas. The North American Sylva . . . Not
Described in the Work of F. Andrew Michaux. Philadelphia: J.Dobson,
1842-49. Three volumes. Quarto, six volumes in all, mid-19th century
straight grain morocco, elaborately gilt decorated spines, edges dyed
yellow, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers.
First editions in English, presentation
copies, of Michaux’s North American Sylva, the most famous
and, until the twentieth-century, the most comprehensive of all American
botanicals. With first editions of Nuttall’s later three-volume
supplement. All six volumes uniformly bound in ornate mid-19th-century
full morocco. With 277 beautiful hand-colored plates.
Volumes II and III are first edition,
first issue; volume I is a first edition, second issue (the preferred
issue). The three Nuttall volumes are all first editions. Expert joint
repair. A stunning set, in outstanding condition and beautifully bound,
with a remarkable provenance.