Archive of 21 letters plus other materials

Archive of 21 letters plus other materials

Publisher Information: 1898-1904.

Curtis, Charles (1853-1928); Walter Fox (1858-1934). Archive of 21 autograph letters (18 by Curtis, 3 by Fox) signed to James Kortright Birch (1850-1927), plus a watercolor sketch of orchids and additional materials; list available on request. Penang Botanic Gardens (Malaysia), 12 December 1892 – 23 November 1904. Various sizes. Pin-holes in most of the letters, one letter with a small portion of the margin cut away not affecting legibility, a few edges frayed, but very good.

Remarkable scientific archive consisting primarily of letters from British botanist Charles Curtis, the first superintendent of the famous Penang Botanic Gardens in Malaysia and the one primarily responsible for the Gardens’ beautiful design. All of the letters in this archive deal with the identification of tropical plant species, including orchids, ferns, flowering trees and shrubs, fruits, etc. They document Curtis’s encyclopedic knowledge of both local and exotic species, as well as his collecting activities and his collegial relationship with Kew Gardens in London. The recipient of the letters was James Kortright Birch, a colonial governor of Penang and “a very keen gardener with considerable technical knowledge,” who “did much to make the Penang Botanical Gardens the beauty spot that they are” (obituary from The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 15 June 1927).

Curtis gained his knowledge of tropical plants as a plant hunter for the well-known nursery firm of James Veitch & Sons. He traveled to Madagascar, Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Mauritius to find new and rare botanical species, some of which are named for him. In 1884 Curtis was appointed assistant superintendent of the Forests and Gardens Department in Penang, and shortly afterwards was put in charge of the newly established Penang Botanic Gardens. During his 18 years as head of the Gardens Curtis worked tirelessly to transform the garden site, an abandoned granite quarry, into a beautiful park stocked with thousands of native and exotic plants, intended to serve as a recreation area, a botanical repository and a center for the cultivation of various species. In his spare time he put together his own collections of plants from Penang, Burma and neighboring coastal areas, sending samples to Kew Gardens in London and to Veitch & Sons. Curtis retired from the Penang Botanic Gardens in December 1903; he was succeeded by horticulturalist Walter Fox, another expert on tropical plants, who is also represented in this archive.

Book Id: 44763

Price: $4,500.00

See all items by ,