Gand: Van Houtte, 1873 . A delightfully illustrated catalogue of pears available from Van Houtte, a prominent Belgian nurseryman. Van Houtte was also noted as a printer and a publisher. He built a printing plant at his nursery in the 1840s and also published the FLORE DES SERRES ET DES JARDINS DE L'EUROPE from 1845 to 1880. Van Houtte used his presses to produce the fine chromolithographed plates which illustrate this catalogue of the pears available from his firm. 431 varieties are listed and described, 122 of which are illustrated in 16 oblong color plates. An additional 36 varieties are shown in outline on 6 black and white plates. Although the original cover title for this copy suggests this is the first fascicule in a larger work, "POMONE/ 1/ NOS POIRES./ 1.er Fascicule.", we find no evidence of such a work being continued. Rather, this collection of illustrations and descriptions became something of a trade catalogue for the firm as much as an informed catalogue of currently superior pears. Some years ago we sold a copy without this printed cover title and with text beginning on page 5, without the preliminary title page and 2 page introduction present in this copy. The work is very scarce: we locate only 2 copies in OCLC, both in Switzerland ( University of Bern and the Conservatorie Et Jardin Botanique Ville de Genève), of which the Bern copy is dated 1890. Oblong 4to (26.5 x 35 cm); 32 pp. of which 22 are printed in 4 columns and 6 in 3 columns + 22 plates, 6 in black and white outline and 16 in full color lithography.
Original paper covered boards with title printed on upper cover, boards quite soiled and spotted; re-backed with portion of original spine remaining; new endpapers; title page is scuffed with some edge tears; the text is browned and soiled, with occasional little margin tears mostly at margins; the chromolithographed plates are remarkably clean on the actual impressions, with some browning, hand-soiling and nicking to outer margins only and their tissue guards, though foxed themselves, perfectly protected the images. In all, heavily used but well protected with the color impressions fresh and bright.
Other items of possible interest…