Choix de plantes d’Europe, décrites et dessinées d’après nature … tome I, avec 25 planches [– tome II, avec 25 planches; – tome III, avec 25 planches; – tome IV, avec 25 planches; – tome V, avec 25 planches].

Leipzig, Voss et compagnie, 1802.

5 vols, bound as one with separate atlas, 4to, pp. I: xii, 40, II: xii, 44, III: xii, 44, IV: xii, 40, V: viii, 38, [ix]-x, Atlas: pll. 125; printed on heavy blue-grey paper, copper-engraved plates signed ‘Capieux’ and coloured by hand, watermarks ‘I G Ebart’ and ‘Spechthausen’; light toning and occasional spots, but a very attractive set in late nineteenth-century French green morocco-backed boards with pseudo-marble sides, spines in compartments between raised bands, lettered directly in gilt, marbled endpapers; gilt red morocco bookplate of Arpad Plesch to upper pastedown of text volume (see below).


US $3396€3171

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
Choix de plantes d’Europe, décrites et dessinées d’après nature … tome I, avec 25 planches [– tome II, avec 25 planches; – tome III, avec 25 planches; – tome IV, avec 25 planches; – tome V, avec 25 planches].

Checkout now

First edition in French, the Plesch set, with 125 handsomely hand-coloured botanical plates, adapted from the German edition finished the previous year. Issued under the title Botanisches Bilderbuch für die Jugend und Freunde der Pflanzenkunde, the work had first appeared in twenty-eight fascicles (with 152 plates) from 1794 to 1801. The text comprises detailed descriptions and classifications of the plants, accompanied by notes on their locations and uses; the plates are the work of Johann Stephan Capieux (1748–1813), professor of drawing at the University of Leipzig from 1782 and among the most accomplished German natural-history illustrators of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Provenance: from the celebrated botanical library of Arpad Plesch (1889–1974). A Hungarian financier resident in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Plesch collected fine copies of natural history books from incunables to the twentieth century, specialising in the great French botanical plate-books of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His collection was dispersed by Sotheby’s in 1975.

Nissen 529 (see I, pp. 197-201); Pritzel 2414; for Arpad Plesch, see Cooper, Great Private Collections (1963), pp. 158-167.

You may also be interested in...


Upon the Frost in the Year 1739–40.  Behold the Liquid Thames now frozen o’er …. 

A striking printed souvenir from the Frost Fair of 1739–40 – relic of an important printing family. 

Read more


A Scheme for a New Lottery: or, a Husband and Coach and Six for forty Shillings.  Being very advantageous to both Sexes; where a Man may have a Coach and Six, and a Wife for Nothing.  Here’s a Whim Wham newly come over, and who will prick at my Lottery-Book?  With a Scheme to prevent the Downfal of the Ch[aritab]le Cor[poratio]n.  By an old Sportsman … To which is prefix’d the Author’s Picture drawn to the Life; being fit to be hung in the Lodgings of all Ladies of Pleasure, as a Memento Mori.  With a recommendatory Poem in favour of the said Lottery, to encourage Maids, Widows, single Women, Batchelors and Widowers to put in.  Also a Scheme scored in Lines, with the several prizes, where Ladies may divert themselves by pricking Blindfold in the said Lottery before the Time of Drawing, to try their Fortunes.  And likewise a View of the Town by the Highgate Spy, taken thro’ a Glass of the Projector’s own making … in which you may see those who can’t see themselves: with an Account of what Persons of both Sexes are excluded the Advantage of putting into the said Lottery. 

First edition of this facetious proposal to match, for the fee of forty shillings each, 50,000 ‘maids and widows’ with a similar number of ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’, by lottery.  The ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’ include ‘500 Lawyers, 200 Petty-foggers … 2 Scotchmen, both Pedlars, 500 Broken Booksellers’ and an astonishing ‘21,000 Publishers’.  Many of these professions appear on an inserted folding game sheet on which ladies may try their luck in advance (blindfolded, with a pin).  The text includes a ludicrous multiplicity of technical conditions pertaining to the scheme, some of which involve allusions to such contemporary figures as Colley Cibber, Alexander Pope, and the eccentric ‘Orator’ Henley. 

Read more