Rare book of ferns up for auction

An exceptionally rare book of ferns is up for auction by 1818 Auctioneers, on the Cumbria Lancashire border. ‘Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland’ belonging to Lancashire plantsman and fern expert Reginald Kaye, is expected to make over £3000.

The book has earned top billing as part of their rare and vintage books sale timed online auction which ends on Sunday 20th December, 2020.

The first edition book is dated 1855 and has 51 nature-printed colour plates. It has been offered up for sale by a family member of the late Reginald Kaye, who was known as the ‘Fern Wizard of Silverdale’. Reginald grew rare and prize-winning ferns and alpines in his five-acre garden close to the shore at Silverdale. He was also an author on the subject.

Expert Rob Kerr explains that the book is exceptional for several reasons: “It’s a first edition, generally in good condition and the way the plates were produced, using nature printing, shows this publication was a labour of love. 

The technique involved taking impressions from leaves, plants, or other life-forms and manufacturing a printing-plate from that. 

In the preface, the editor, the eminent botanist and horticulturist John Lindley, writes that it’s ‘the first English attempt at applying Nature-Printing to Botanical Science’. In other words, it was the first substantial nature-printed book to be published in Britain.”

The book, written by an imminent expert of the day, Thomas Moore, is expected to appeal to collectors of natural history, botanists and fern enthusiasts all over the world. Moore was Curator of the Chelsea Botanic Garden and co-editor of the Gardener’s Chronicle.The book is estimated to make between £3,000 and £4,000.

For more information on the book and auction please visit: https://www.1818auctioneers.co.uk/

Images: All images credit 1818 Auctioneers.

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