Boston: Printed and published for the author, 1854. 20 1/2 x 26 1/2. 16 pages + one-page index + 6 full size color plates. One chromolithograph is from a drawing by Allen; the other 5 are from drawings by Sharp. Recent boards with linen spine; facsimile of original title label on upper cover. The contents have been completely restored with the paper de-acidified and each leaf hinged on linen. Most fore edges have been strengthened (almost imperceptibly) with tissue. Two closed tears have been repaired. There is a date (Dec 1916) stamped in the gutter of the dedication page. Very good copy of a brilliant and important book. Item #12893
A cornerstone of American color printing. These images were drawn on stone and printed by Sharp, America's first chromolithographic printer. This was the earliest example of large scale color printing in the United States. William Sharp emigrated to Boston from England in the late 1830s and produced the first chromolithograph in the States in 1840. His career culminated in this work which Reese describes as "printed colors with a delicacy of execution and technical brilliance never before achieved in the United States." The success of Sharp's work is due in part to the fact that the five plates he designed were specifically intended to be printed by chromolithography. Most other practitioners of that time were just reproducing existing works of art. This large format reflects the extraordinary size of the lily. Leaves grow several inches a day until they reach up to 6 feet long, and are strong enough to support the weight of a child. The flowers are 12 to 17 inches in diameter.
Allen's text provides a history of the cultivation of the lily which was introduced into England, after being discovered on the Amazon in the 1830s. Victoria had recently become queen and the lily was named in her honor. Allen's lily was given to him by Caleb Cope, to whom the book is dedicated. Cope, president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, was the first American to cultivate this lily. Reese 19, Bennett p. 2, Marzio Democratic Art pp. 18, 215, 279-80.