Rare Science Book: Pursh, Friedrich T. ; Flora Americae Septentrionalis; or, A Systematic Arrangement and Description of the Plants of North America.
Item Number: Book - 665
Pursh, Friedrich T.; Flora Americae Septentrionalis; or, A Systematic Arrangement and Description of the Plants of North America. Containing, besides what may have been described by preceding authors, many new and rare species, collected during twelve years travels and residence in that country. 2 volumes, London, 1814. Octavo, vol. 1, pp. xxxvi, 358, 15 engraved plates, vol. 2, pp. 359-751, 9 engraved plates.
The set is in contemporary half green morocco with marbled boards, gold gilt spine panels and ruled edges. minor scuffing to binding edges and boards, light to moderate foxing to some text and some plates, seminary book plate on paste down. In very good condition.
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Pusch (1774-1820) was born in Saxony. He came to America in 1799 to study the plants of North America. Aided by Benjamin Smith Barton he made two memorable journeys of botanical exploration in 1806 and 1807. On his return from the second journey in 1807, he took over the running of David Hosack's Elgin Botanic Garden in New York. He remained in the United States until 1811, when he sailed for England in an attempt to arrange for the publication of the present work. In 1806 Pursh had met Meriwether Lewis, who gave him a collection of dried plants gathered on the Lewis & Clark expedition, "in order to describe and figure those I thought new, for the purpose of inserting them in his travels, which he was then engaging for the press." It is unclear why Lewis would choose Pursh to turn the specimens over to. He may have intended that they go to Barton, for whom Pursh then worked. In any case, the death of Lewis and the delay in publication of the account of the expedition led Pursh to incorporate the Lewis and Clark material into his own work, where the material from the expedition and the locations where Lewis gathered it are carefully noted. A landmark work in early American botany, the work is the first to publish the findings of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and a book which has been styled by one botanical historian as "amazingly brilliant." Pursh's work is important for eastern botany as well, but its greatest contribution is the material relating to Lewis and Clark, and the publication of the first extensive observations on the botany along the route of their expedition. A fascinating feature of the work is the narrative preface in which Pursh gives some detail of his life and travels in the Americas, as well as mentions the botanists he encountered and giving a description of the sources he consulted in England after his arrival in 1811. Pursh returned to North America and died in Montreal in 1820. The work is seen with the plates colored and also non-colored. This copy has the non-colored plates.