Audobon's "Birds of America" but for flowers
May 8, 2014 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for a book that has large, high-quality illustrations of flowers.

I feel like I've seen something like this before, and I keep thinking of Audobon's "Birds of America". I would eventually want do high-resolution scans and create a collage with the images (this is a just-for-fun, not-for-profit project, so I'm not worried about copyright and all that). Ideally it would be a book I could find at the library. I've done a search but "book flower illustrations" brings up a billion different things--mostly gardening or how-to drawing books, and I'm looking for something closer to a beautifully-done-scientific-documentation-of-botanical-specimens. Photography would be OK, but I would prefer realistic illustrations on a white background. Here is where I got the idea, if that helps clarify what I am picturing. Thanks in advance!
posted by lovableiago to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
A complete, high-quality scan of the four volumes of Reichenbachia: Orchids Illustrated and Described, by Frederick Sander and Henry George Moon. 1886-1890.
posted by theodolite at 10:03 AM on May 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here are a couple of my favourites: Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen in naturgetreuen, and the Orchid Album.
posted by dhruva at 10:23 AM on May 8, 2014

I can't find a copy of Banks' Florilegium, the collection of copperplate botanical engravings by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander (made while they accompanied Captain James Cook on his voyage around the world between 1768 and 1771), but there are full size digital copies on the British Natural History museum website, as well as elsewhere.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 10:34 AM on May 8, 2014

It's not out till October! But perhaps this will do the trick if you're still looking then:

Flora Illustrata
posted by lyssabee at 12:45 PM on May 8, 2014

Robert John Thornton bankrupted himself with the publication of The Temple of Flora in 1799 but happily Taschen have a reproduction for only £35. Seems like a portfolio edition with loose prints is on for big money (good reviews though) but it appears there are a couple of hardback reproductions for much less. I bet you could get hold of a copy through your library.

Have a look through botanical illustrations in the Dover Publications catalogue as well.
posted by glasseyes at 2:14 PM on May 8, 2014

p.s. Dover images are usually copyright-free or free-ish.
posted by glasseyes at 2:23 PM on May 8, 2014

The word you are looking for is "flora." Flora of Hampstead county, etc. was a common thing for natural historians to put together back in the day- and by definition, they are beautifully illustrated.
posted by rockindata at 5:45 PM on May 8, 2014

Temple of Flora is at least partly digitised and available (free, out of copyright) through the State Library of Victoria. (Click on the "View online" link to open.) Not sure it is what you're after but nice big zoomable pics, and downloadable too.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:41 PM on May 8, 2014

Check out Curtis's Botanical Magazine. By the early 1800s they were publishing intricate, gorgeous, colour illustrations of flowers in every issue. You can browse and download these illustrations for free at the Biodiversity Heritage Library website. (I quickly looked through some issues from the 1870s, and found stacks of lovely images).

If you don't have time to browse the digitised magazines to locate the illustrations, you can find selected images in the Iowa Digital Library or, if you like carnivorous plants, via the John Innes Centre Historical Collection of Botanical Drawings.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 3:55 AM on May 9, 2014

Response by poster: These are all GREAT, folks! (I'd mark every one as best answer but I think that would defeat the purpose!) Many thanks.
posted by lovableiago at 4:07 PM on May 9, 2014

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