8vo., pp. xii, ; a very good, crisp copy in contemporary quarter calf and marbled boards (rubbed), competently rebacked.
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Clavis anglica Linguæ botanicæ; or, a botanical Lexicon; in which the Terms of Botany, particularly those occurring in the Works of Linnæus, and other modern Writers, are applied, derived, explained, contrasted, and exemplified …
First edition, dedicated to John Hope of the University of Edinburgh, and written with the assistance of Arthur Lee of Virginia, winner of the Hope Medal in 1763.
The physician and miscellanous writer John Berkenhout (1726-1791) served in the Prussian and English infantry before commencing the study of medicine at Edinburgh in 1760. His Clavis was published while he was a student, and a second edition appeared in 1789. He practised in Isleworth, Bury St. Edmunds, Winchester and Bath, and spent some time in America from 1778. ‘Berkenhout was a versatile man. His deep knowledge of natural history, botany, and chemistry was coupled with an extensive acquaintance with classical and modern literature. He was familiar with the French, German, Swedish, Dutch, and Italian languages, was a good mathematician, and is said to have been skilled in music and painting’ (Oxford DNB).
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Charles Scowen arrived in Ceylon around 1873 and was initially an assistant to R. Edley, the Commission Agent in Kandy before opening a photographic studio around 1876. By 1885 his photography firm had studios in Colombo and Kandy. Scowen was a later arrival to Ceylon than Skeen and his work is less well-known, but: ‘Much of Scowen’s surviving work displays an artistic sensibility and technical mastery which is often superior to their longer-established competitor. In particular, the botanical studies are outstanding…’ (Falconer, J. and Raheem, I., Regeneration: a reappraisal of photography in Ceylon 1850 –1900, p. 19). In the early 1890s the firm was being run by Mortimer Scowen, a relative of Charles Scowen. By about 1894 the firm’s stock of negatives had been acquired by the ‘Colombo Apothecaries Co Ltd’. This print is likely to have been made in the 1890s from negatives made earlier.