H I S T O R Y
BRITISH PROPER FERNS.
With PLAIN and ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS,
A N D
NEW FIGURES of all the SPECIES and VARIATIONS,
Taken from an immediate and careful Infpection of the Plants in their Natural State,
and engraved on Thirty-One Copper-Plates; with the particular Places noted where
each Species was lately gathered, and are at this Time growing in the North of
English, or on the Mountains of Wales.
By JAMES BOLTON, of HALIFAX.
PRINTED FOR JOHN BINNS, LEEDS;
AND SOLD BY B. WHITE AND SON, J. JOHNSON AND J. WALLIS, LONDON;
J. AND J. MERRILL, CAMBRIDGE; J. FLETCHER, OXFORD; AND THE
BOOKSELLERS AT EDINBURGH.
[Price in Boards 13s. or Coloured, 1l. 7s.]
~ THE FIRST EDITION ~
Recent, very handsome full panelled calf binding, occasional minor marks and some light toning, but generally very good condition with edges untrimmed, so nice wide margins. A quarto volume, it measures approximately 32.5cm (12¾") x 25.5cm (10") x 2.5cm (1"). Pagination pp. xxii, 59, , 31 hand-coloured engraved plates, errata slip mounted on final leaf verso, volume 1 only (a second volume was published 1790 which is not present here). [Henrey 464; Nissen BBI 194].
James Bolton (1735-99) was an English naturalist, botanist, mycologist, and illustrator. He was the younger son of a weaver. His elder brother, Thomas (1722?–1778), was also a competent botanist. It is not known if James received any formal education; a self-taught artist, he acquired some of his techniques indirectly, or perhaps directly, from Georg Ehret, whom he may well have met through their mutual patron, the duchess of Portland. Bolton was employed in his early adult life as a weaver but later became a respected art teacher, as well as an author and illustrator of a number of important natural history books.
Bolton was one of the foremost eighteenth-century mycologists. His talent as a botanical artist and portrayer of taxonomic detail, and as author of the first British book devoted to fungi, is widely recognized. His role in natural history recording is less widely understood, but his illustrations show his prowess in field observation, and manuscript material exists which shows that he made numerous field records, often noting important ecological details.
Bolton lived for his entire life in the Halifax area, which provided a rich source of material, particularly fungi, for his drawings, but he also travelled and collected in the Craven district of Yorkshire, neighbouring counties, and north Wales. He communicated with key botanists of his day, including Jean Bulliard, James Dickson, John Lightfoot, and Carl Willdenow, but it is not clear if mentions by other important correspondents and visitors to 'Bolton' refer to him or to his brother. He was elected an honorary member of the Natural History Society of Edinburgh, and in 1788 the genus Boltonia (Compositae) was named in his honour.
Bolton is best remembered as the author of three major works, Filices Britannicae (2 vols., 1785–90), An History of Fungusses Growing about Halifax (3 vols., 1788–90; supplement, 1791), and Harmonia ruralis (2 vols., 1794–6), the illustrations to all of which he drew and etched himself. He also provided the illustrations for Richard Relhan's Flora Cantabrigiensis (1785). Bolton's beautifully observed and hand-coloured Filices Britannicae; an history of the British proper ferns, was the first British book on ferns.