Lot 41
  • 41

Miller, Philip

15,000 - 20,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Figures of the Most Beautiful, Useful, and Uncommon Plants described in The Gardeners Dictionary, Exhibited on Three Hundred Copper Plates, accurately Engraven after Drawings taken from Nature, with the Characters of their Flowers and Seed-vessels, Drawn when they were in their Greatest Perfection. London: Printed for the Author, [1755–] 1760
  • paper, ink, leather
Engraved allegorical headpiece to the dedication leaf after and by J. S. Miller, woodcut headpiece and initial-frame. Illustration: 300 handcolored or color-printed and hand-finished etched and engraved plates (numbered I–V, 6, VIII–CCC; 2 full-sheet or folding) after G. D. Ehret, J. Bartram, W. Houston, R. Lancake and J. S. Miller by Miller, T. Jefferys, and J. Mynde.

2 volumes, folio (16 5/8 x 10 7/8 in.; 421 x 274 mm). Binding: Contemporary marbled boards, rebacked to style in calf, spines gilt in seven compartments with maroon morocco labels, plain endpapers and edges. Marbled board slipcase.

Very short tear to lower margin of title-page, full-sheet plate CCXXII torn with early repair, some browning, spotting, and offsetting. Extremities of binding a bit worn, corners with minor repair, foot of spine of vol. 2 chipped.


De Belder sale 243; Dunthorne 209; Great Flower Books, p. 121; Henrey 1097; Hunt 566; Nissen 1378; Plesch sale 538; Pritzel 6241; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 6059

Catalogue Note

A near-fine, uncut copy of the first edition of Miller’s illustrated supplement to his overwhelmingly popular Gardeners Dictionary (see previous lot). While conceived as a complement to an earlier publication, Miller’s Figures of … Plants "is a sufficiently complete work and may be rated on its own merits" (Hunt). The plants illustrated were either engraved from drawings of specimens in the Chelsea Physic Garden or drawings supplied by Miller's numerous correspondents, who included John Bartram, the Pennsylvania naturalist (cf. plate 272), and Dr. William Houston, who travelled widely in the Americas and West Indies and bequeathed Miller his papers, drawings, and herbarium (cf. plates 44 and 182).

Miller initially intended to publish one figure of a plant for every known genus, but in his preface he explains that the expenses of production have caused him "almost from the Beginning … to contract his Plan, and confine it to those Plants only, which are either curious in themselves, or may be useful in Trades, Medicine, &c., including the Figures of such new Plants as have not been noticed by any former Botanists." For the plants drawn from examples in the Garden, Miller employed Richard Lancake and two of the leading botanical artists and engravers of the period, Georg Dionysius Ehret and Johann Sebastian Miller (formerly Müller; see lot 39). The work was published by subscription in 50 monthly parts (each part with 6 plates) between 25 March 1755 and 30 June 1760; there were later editions in 1771 and 1809.