Lancake, R. (drawn by). J. Miller (engraved by).
London. P. Miller. 1757.
Engraving with modern handcolor, image size 12 3/4 x 8 inches on sheet 16 1/2 x 10 1/4 inches. Short repaired tear in right margin outside plate mark, clean and bright condition. This is a beautiful copperplate engraving on antique rag laid paper, plate CLXXIII from Figures of the Most Beautiful, useful and uncommon Plants described in the Gardener's Dictionary published by Philip Miller in London, and dated on the plate 1757. It was drawn by R. Lancake and engraved by J. Miller. Philip Miller (1691-1771) was the chief gardener at the Chelsea Physick Garden in London and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his extensive knowledge of plants. Included are small botanical details. "Because mandrakes contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids and the shape of their roots often resembles human figures, they have been associated with a variety of superstitious practices throughout history. They have long been used in magic rituals..." (wikipedia.) These larger, folio size 18th century botanical prints are now quite scarce as they were produced in limited numbers. Paper was then quite expensive and the potential market for the publications still quite small; only in the 19th century did an expanding middle class fuel the publication of many relatively affordable botanical publications of smaller size (such as William Curtis's Botanical Magazine and other botanical publications modelled after it). Item #53881