The orchid album, Comprising colored figures and descriptions of new, rare, and beautiful orchidaceous plants. Conducted by Robert Warner and Benjamin Samuel Williams. The botanical descriptions by Thomas Moore. The coloured figures by John Nugent Fitch. 11 vols. London: B. S. Williams, at the Victoria and paradise Nurseries, 1892 – 1897.
This set includes 528 chromolithographed and hand-colored plates by John Nugent Fitch on 527 sheets. It was published periodically by B. S. Williams from his nurseries in Holloway, London, from 1882 until his death in 1890. The set includes the obituary of B. S. Williams in vol. 9. His son, Henry Williams, continued the publication through to its conclusion in 1897. These dates are important as they mark the period when the last significant new varieties of orchids were discovered in the wild. This work therefore, with its selection based largely on the discoveries made during the nineteenth century, offers an unparalleled record of all the best orchid varieties before the impact of the 'captive-bred' hybrids.
The Orchid Album was published at the height of the 'Orchidelirium' which had been building in Britain for some decades, but which seized the imaginations of late Victorian horticulturists in the same way that the tulip craze inflamed the minds of collectors in Golden Age Holland. "Some of the grander Victorian growers, such as the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in Derbyshire and the Duke of Northumberland at Syon House in Middlesex, employed their own collectors, but orchid fanciers like John Day acquired their best treasures at auction. Nurserymen such as Veitch, Conrad Loddiges and Benjamin Samuel Williams of the Victoria and Paradise Nurseries in Upper Holloway, regularly sent consignments of orchids to be auctioned by Messrs Stevens of King St, Covent Garden. It was in their sale room that, after an epic battle with a fellow enthusiast, Sir Trevor Lawrence, a contemporary of Day's, acquired the one single plant of Aerides lawrenciae imported by Frederick Sander from the Philippines," (Anna Pavord, review of A Very Victorian Passion The Orchid Paintings of John Day, Independent, 29 May 2004).
Digital facsimile from Google Books at this link.
Subjects: BOTANY, BOTANY › Botanical Illustration