Rare fern book owned by 'Fern Wizard of Silverdale' expected to make over £3,000 at auction

An exceptionally rare book, the ‘Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland’, belonging to Lancashire plantsman and fern expert Reginald Kaye, is expected to make more than £3,000 at auction.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 12:30 pm
Pages from a rare book on ferns, expected to make more than £3,000 at auction this month.
Pages from a rare book on ferns, expected to make more than £3,000 at auction this month.

It is being offered up for sale by 1818 Auctioneers, on the Cumbria/Lancashire border, as part of their rare and vintage books, timed online auction which ends on December 20.

The first edition book, dated 1855 and with 51 nature-printed colour plates, has been entered into the sale by a family member.

The late Reginald Kaye, known as the 'Fern Wizard of Silverdale', grew rare and prize-winning ferns and alpines in his five-acre garden close to the shore at Silverdale. He was also an author on the subject.

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Pages from a rare book on ferns, expected to make more than £3,000 at auction this month.

1818 Auctioneers' rare and vintage book expert Rob Kerr says the provenance and the book itself is the reason why he expects it to make between £3,000 and £4,000.

As Rob explains: “This book is exceptional for many reasons. It’s a first edition, generally in good condition and the way the plates were produced, using nature printing, shows this publication was a labour of love.

“The technique involved taking impressions from leaves, plants, or other life-forms and manufacturing a printing-plate from that.

“In the preface, the editor, the eminent botanist and horticulturist John Lindley, writes that it’s 'the first English attempt at applying Nature-Printing to Botanical Science'.

“In other words, it was the first substantial nature-printed book to be published in Britain."

’Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland’ was written by an imminent expert of the day, the curator of the Chelsea botanic garden and co-editor of Gardener's Chronicle, Thomas Moore.

Rob Kerr expects the book to appeal to collectors of natural history, botanists and fern enthusiasts from all over the world.

For more information about the book and the sale, please visit here or call 015395 66201.