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Plantae Utiliores

Plantae Utiliores

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Plantae Utiliores: or Illustrations of Useful Plants

by M.A. Burnett

  • Used
  • Very Good
  • Hardcover
  • first
Very Good/None
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Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
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About This Item

Very good complete copy of this Victorian classic of medical botany

Botanical illustrations by Mary Ann Burnett, sister of botanist Gilbert Burnett

First edition in four volumes complete with all 260 botanical illustrations drawn and hand-coloured by the artist

Illustrations of useful flowers, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, medicinal plants, botanical dyes, mushrooms, etc.

Zincograph plates by Charles Chabot

One of only 316 copies printed for 262 subscribers

Mary Ann Burnett was the sister of Gilbert Burnett, Professor of Botany at King's College London and the Apothecaries' Society, Chelsea. Mary was an artist and worked as "a colourer of drawings and maps." Her brother's sudden death at age 35 in 1835 left her (and her mother) in "utter destitution." In 1836, the London Medical and Surgical Journal launched an appeal on their behalf with donations accepted at several banks and other locations in London.

Partly to stave off destitution, Mary Ann edited the text of her brother's magnum opus Plantae Utiliores, added botanical illustrations and had it published from c.1840-1850. The appeal seems to have worked, as of the 262 subscribers, 145 were women, including the Queen and Queen Dowager, Lady Baring, Lady Hallowell Carew, the Countess of St Clair, Lady Oakeley, Lady Sophia Tower, etc. Dedicatee Miss Munshell ordered six copies, Mrs William Block ordered 11, Miss Bovill 3, Miss Dare 2, Mrs Dry 4, Mrs Earle 2, Mrs Fitzgerald 3, Mrs Hall 2, Mrs Jones 4, Mrs Macvicar 6, Mrs Mansfield 2, Mrs Maxwell 2. Other subscribers included Dr Michael Faraday, Queen Victoria's librarian Glover, Prince Albert's librarian Prestorias, various bishops and archbishops, doctors and reverends.

"A large series of Illustrations of Useful Plants in 4 vols. 4to, beautifully drawn and coloured by his sister, M.A. Burnett, with text chiefly by Gilbert Burnett, was published after his death."

"This work has evidently been a labour of love with Miss Burnett, who is not only a most skilful artist, but is by profession a colourer of drawings and maps: and consequently has been able to lavish more finished beauty upon her designs than could be expected in a work of treble the price." London Medical Gazette, 1840.

"The drawing and colouring of the plates are the work of this accomplished lady." A Critical Dictionary of English Literature.

Gilbert Thomas Burnett (1800-1835) also wrote Outlines of Botany 1835, edited Stephenson and Churchill's Medical Botany, and a number of lectures and papers in the Journal of the Royal Institution (1828-1832). Plantae was later re-issued in a new edition as An Encyclopedia of Useful and Ornamental Plants in two volumes, George Willis, London, 1852. Some of the botanical plates were re-issued as The Floral Keepsake by George Willis later.

Charles Chabot (1815-1885) was a lithographer, zincographer and wood engraver from Clapham, London, who worked for Burnett, Edward George Henderson, Mrs. Augusta Withers, Miss. Sowerby, etc. He specialized in maps and botanicals.

Contemporary gilt-decorated green morocco with marble boards. Five raised bands to spine with gilt panels, title and volume labels in red leather, gilt lettering. Slight scuffing to marble boards and corners, but interior fresh and clean with only slight spotting to a few pages. All zincographic plates with delicate hand colour.

Armorial bookplate of Charles Edward Keyser, British stockbroker and authority on English church architecture, 1847-1929.


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Florilegius JP (JP)
Bookseller's Inventory #
Plantae Utiliores
M.A. Burnett
Mary Ann Burnett, Charles Chabot
Half leather and marble boards
Book Condition
Used - Very Good
Jacket Condition
Quantity Available
Whittaker & Co.
Place of Publication
Date Published
Quarto, 28 x 22cm
0.00 lbs
Mary Ann Burnett, M.A. Burnett, Plantae Utiliores, Useful Plants, botanical art, female artist, Gilbert Burnett, Victorian, medical botany, zincograph, lithograph
Bookseller catalogs
Medical Botany;
May be a multi-volume set and require additional postage.

Terms of Sale


30 day return guarantee, with full refund including original shipping costs for up to 30 days after delivery if an item arrives misdescribed or damaged.

About the Seller


Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2019
Tokyo, Tokyo

About Florilegius

Tokyo-based bookseller specializing in European illustrated books from the 18th to 19th century, mainly botanical, zoological, costume and travel. Also Japanese ukiyo-e and woodblock botanicals, flower arrangement, etc.


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