Collection of fruit goes down well at book sale

At Bloomsbury Auctions recent New York sale of Books and Manuscripts, most eyes were on the rare first edition of W B Yeats's first poem which brought $60,000. The issue of Mosada belonged to the Yeats family, providing a memorabilia factor to the collectible book.

However, for a few bidders this was not the most exciting text on offer, and indeed the top lot status went to another book.

George Brookshaw's Pomona Britannica (a collection of the most esteemed fruits at present cultivated in this country) was published in 1812, and a rare first edition was on offer in the sale.

In 1777, George Brookshaw began his career as a London cabinet-maker whose finest neo-classical pieces were adorned with painted landscapes, figural medallions and floral decoration.

Pomona Britannica fruit
Illustration from Pomona Britannica

Despite his great early success, Brookshaw's work declined, and he re-invented himself as a botanical artist. His masterpiece, the Pomona Britannica, wasissued in parts beginning in 1804, and the complete book was first published in 1812.

Described as the most important English work on fruit, Brookshaw's text contains 90 plates which depict over 250 varieties of cherries (7 plates), plums and apricots (10), peaches and nectarines (15), pineapples (5), grapes (17), melons (9), pears and apples (7).

These were found by Brookshaw in the Royal Gardens at Hampton Court and Kensington Gardens as well as other celebrated orchards and collections mentioned in the accompanying text.

A bidder paid $65,000 - close to the top estimate of $70,000 for the fine and valuable work.



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