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One of the 100 plates from Christoph Jacob Trew’s book 'Plantae Selectae', estimated at €24,000-€30,000 ($26,000-$32,000) at Jeschke Jadi Auctions in Berlin.

Two influential European botanical plate books featured at Jeschke Jadi April 27

BERLIN — First editions of two influential European botanical plate books lead the offering of Rare Books, Prints and Art at Jeschke Jadi Auctions on Saturday, April 27. Copies of Christoph Jacob Trew’s Plantae Selectae and Frederick Sander’s Reichenbachia are estimated at €24,000-€30,000 ($26,000-$32,000) and €6,000-€7,500 ($6,000-$8,000), respectively.

Published between 1750 and 1773, Plantae selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortis curiosorum (A selection of plants from natural specimens nurtured in London’s curious gardens) is considered the most important botanical work ever printed in Germany.

Christoph Jacob Trew (1695-1769), a wealthy doctor and amateur botanist from Nuremberg, hired local engravers Johann Jacob Haid and Johann Elias Haid to produce the 100 plates that were based on drawings he had purchased piecemeal from the great flower painter Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708-1770). Beginning his working life as a gardener’s apprentice near Heidelberg, Ehret lived and worked in London in the 1740s when he associated with both Sir Hans Sloan and Phillip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

As Trew died before the last of the three parts had been finished, the project was only completed with the help of Benedict Christian Vogel, a professor of botany at the University of Altdorf. The copy of the book on offer is described as ‘extremely well-preserved with contemporary coloring of the plates.’

One of the more extravagant publishing projects of the late 19th century was Frederick Sander’s Reichenbachia: Orchids illustrated and described… published in London between 1888 and 1894.

Named in honor of the celebrated orchidologist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (1824-1889), it features 192 chromolithographic plates by the artist Henry Moon (1857-1905) that were fashioned from hand-cut wooden blocks and used as many as 20 different colored inks. The cost to Sanders, the owner of a successful nursery in St. Albans, was well above £7,000 (something like £1 million or $1.25 million in today’s money), and the project almost ruined him. This copy comes in a contemporary half-leather binding, with each plate protected by a tissue guard.