Philadelphia: Robert P. Smith, 1852. Early collected edition. Originally published as separate works, these titles merged into a regularly produced combined work of six volumes beginning in 1851." (Reese). All together six large octavo volumes with a total 277 hand-colored engraved [Michaux] and lithographed [Nuttall] plates, (9 7/8 x 6 inches; 250 x 153 mm). viii, 123, [1, blank]; [2, blank], 128, [2, blank]; [2, blank], 143, [1, blank]; [2, blank], xii, 1-12, [13*-15*], 13-18, [19*-24*], [2, blank], 19-136; [2, blank], , 123, [1, blank]; [2, blank], , 148, 4, index] pp. Each plate with tissue guard. With half-title to Volume I. Regarding the Michaux, "The plates were executed by the great French flower painter, Redouté, and his associate, Bessa." (Reese).
Complete with 156 plates total in Michaux. 50 plates in Michaux Vol. I, 50 plates in Michaux Vol. II, and 56 plates in Michaux Vol. III. Plate 117 with some light foxing. In Vol.III, plate 107 bound before 106, plate 119 bound before 120, and plate 144 bound before 143, but with the text correctly matching up, so most likely the plate numbers were printed in reverse. Complete with 121 plates in Nuttall. 40 plates in Nuttall volume I. No plates 30 or 31 (which were never printed and there is no corresponding text for those numbers), but with two extra plates, plate IV (bis)* and plate X (bis)*. These two extra plates are different subject matter than plates IV and X. Plate XX lightly foxed. 40 plates in Nuttall Vol. II. There is no plate 65, but two plates numbered 66. They have different subject matter, and the the first plate 66 corresponds to the text for plate 65. Plate 68 is bound before plate 67, but with the text correctly matching up, so most likely the plate numbers were printed in reverse. 41 plates in Nuttall Vol. III. Some smudging to plate LXXXII.
All six volumes uniformly bound in publisher's deluxe extra-gilt binding of full green morocco. Front and back boards with floral central devices, and double ruled in gilt. Spines stamped and lettered in gilt. Board edges tooled in gilt, gilt dentelles. All edges gilt. Yellow coated endpapers. Previous bookplates on front free endpapers in all volumes. One being for J. Alfred Hazard, and the other one in Hieroglyphics spelling out (LINC or LINK). Some minor rubbing to outer hinges and board edges. Some hairline cracking to hinges at the top of the spines of Michaux Vol. III and Nuttall Vol. I. Some foxing to tissue guards, but other then the few minor instances mentioned above, the text and plates are extremely clean. Overall a very nice set.
From 1785 to 1796, André Michaux explored the eastern United States on behalf of the French government. His work was carried on by his son, François-André, in 1801 and 1807, and it was these travels that formed the basis for The North American Sylva. It was first published at Paris, between 1810 and 1813, with 145 plates. The first English edition with 156 plates, was published by Thomas Dobson at 1817 to 1819 under a false Philadelphia imprint. The plates were purchased by the American naturalist, William Maclure, who took them to New Harmony, Indiana, and produced the first American edition in 1841. He in turn left them to Dr. Samuel G. Morton of Philadelphia where they were first printed in 1850. The later Nuttall prints were done by hand-colored lithography.
"Of the two works united, 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, 48695).
"Few American color plate books had such lasting popularity as this classic work on American trees" (Reese).
MacPhail 36; Nissen, BBI, 1361; Sabin 48695. Reese, Nineteenth Century Color Plate Books, 21, Raphael, Oak Spring Sylva, 20. (Item #2985)