669: Gray Flora North America 1838-1843 softcover rare
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Lot 0669 Details
Title:A Flora of North America, Volumes I & II, in several parts
Publisher:G. & C. Carvill; Wiley & Putnam
Condition/Details:This auction is for a very early and extremely rare set of Gray and Torrey's "Flora of North America." Included are five parts, all softcover volumes: Volume I, parts I and II, and Volume II, parts I, II, and III. The two parts of the first volume were published by Carvill in 1838, and each of the parts of the second volume were published by Wiley & Putnam in consecutive years from 1841-43. The rear wrap of Vol. I Part II explains the authors' plan at the time to publish the entire work in three volumes of approximately 550 pages each, with the first volume containing three parts. Obviously the construction of the work did not unfold as planned. Interestingly enough, our copy of Vol. I Part I is actually two different sections bound together. Part I ends at page 184, and continues to the start of Part II on page 185; however the second "half" of the volume labeled Part I covers pages 545-710 (with index). We are unable to determine what section these pages might apply to, as the subject matter does not appear to be repeated elsewhere in this set. Someone has penciled onto the top of the first page of text, "I pt. 4" – perhaps indicating that there were, or are, two additional parts to the first volume. Appended to this is a title page and preliminaries for the entire first volume, dated 1840, as if in preparation for the parts being bound together. Between the two sections of the first part is a page of notes, and indeed there are period notes scattered throughout the first part. The notes are clearly editorial, suggesting additions, deletions, and substitutions. The notes mention "Dr. Gray" in the third person, leading us to believe they could be the work of an editor, or even John Torrey, as the writer appears to know a good deal about the subject matter.
Condition of the volumes is good; all the parts are intact, with the exception of the front cover and free endpaper on Vol. I Part II detached. The pages are clean and bright, no marginalia except for the previously noted writing. Asa Gray is, of course, a very important name—perhaps the name—in botany research, and these landmark printings are a fabulous find.
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