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Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest

· Botany,Halifax,Fine Book Research,Vascular Plants,Pacific Northwest Flora

Sets of books are very difficult to sell – especially online and where mailing is required. Postage is getting very expensive, once you leave North America. This past week I sent an art book off to Holland and the postage was $102! And, mid-week, a client came by to pick up a book that I acquired for him, and he decided to purchase a 6-volume set of books, as well. I happily reported this to Glenda, having sold a set of books – and postage not an issue.

And the next day, I bought the featured 5-volume set of books that were in total bigger than the 6-volume set sold the day before. Both sets are very scarce, and while the sold set was $200, the new set, I have priced at $1,000. So, postage becomes less of an issue.

Here are photos of the books just acquired, along with the description that I posted online, last evening. Then, I will expound on two interesting facets of the purchase.

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Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest: by C. Leo Hitchcock, Arthur Cronquist, Marion Ownbey, J. W. Thompson; 5 volumes: Part 1 - Vascular Cryptogams, Gymnosperms, and Monocotyledons; by Hitchcock, Cronquist, and Ownbey, illustrated by Jeanne R. Janish, 1969: Part 2 - Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae; by Hitchcock and Cronquist, illustrated by Janish, 1964: Part 3 - Saxifragaceae to Ericaceae; by Hitchcock and Cronquist, illustrated by Janish, 1961: Part 4 - Ericaceae through Campanulaceae, by Hitchcock, Cronquist and Ownbey, illustrated by Janish, 1959 – second printing 1969: Part 5 – Compositae; by Cronquist, illustrated by John H. Rumely, 1955 – second printing 1969; University of Washington Press, Seattle.

What is interesting is that the volumes were created in reverse order – very unusual. This landmark, monumental work, of almost 3,000 pages with almost 800 plates, was well planned and executed over a period of almost two decades, by a very knowledge and dedicated team. From the blurb in Part 5 (the last volume) – Vascular Plants in the Pacific Northwest offers the first complete guide, with keys, to the ferns, fern-related, and seed-bearing plants of Washington. Northern Oregon, Idaho north of the Snake River plains, the mountainous western part of Montana, and southern British Columbia. Each part gives complete regional synonymy, type collections, geographic ranges, genuine common names, and chromosome numbers for each species, as well as economic importance and horticultural features. C. Leo Hitchcock, editor and senior editor of this work, is professor of botany and curator of the herbarium at the University of Washington. Arthur Cronquist is curator of the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden. Marion Ownbey is professor of botany and curator of the herbarium at Washington State University. J. W. Thompson is a well-known collector and student of the Pacific Northwest flora. This set of works was owned by Dr. Pierre Michel Taschereau, Institute for Resource and Experimental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was also the staff naturalist for the Nova Scotia Museum, and a well-known Canadian botanist. Taschereau’s stamp of ownership, Personal Property of P. M. Taschereau, appears on the inside cover, the first free endpaper and the top of the pages of each volume.

Part 1 – 914 pages with 295 plates; Part 2 – 597 pages with 168 plates; Part 3 – 614 pages with 153 plates; Part 4 – 510 pages with 112 plates: and Part 5 343 pages with 67 plates.

These large format books overall are in near-fine condition in very-good dust jackets that are now in a protective mylar wraps. This large set will definitely require additional postage/shipping charges, depending on the purchaser’s location.

Interesting facet #1

As noted in the description, the first book was published in 1955, and the last in 1969 – reflecting a project that lasted some 2 decades. These four authors obviously planned this out in some detail, and were confident enough to start with creating the fifth volume in the series, working backwards to Part #1. I have never come across this before and probably will never see it again.

Interesting facet #2

The preference for collectors and dealers is that no previous ownership marks or signatures are to be found in a book; unless the previous owner had some special affiliation with the author or the book or was just someone famous. Any book that Hemingway may have scribbled his signature in, has just gone up by a significant amount.

In this case, the previous owner stamped “Personal Property of P. M. Taschereau”, on the inside of the front cover, on the first free endpaper and on the top of the pages, in each volume. There is nothing I can really do about the signatures – removing them would damage the books. It became a question of pricing the set. Do I discount the set, or is there enough linkage between the set of books and the owner.

I spent some 20 minutes trying to find out about Taschereau. It was piecemeal effort. My thinking was that if he put his stamp all over the place, he must have been in an environment that had books owned by his employer, such as government or post-secondary. I began to see references to P. M. Taschereau, as the author of papers or books that was quoted in works by others. Then I found his first name and finally a reference to Dr. Taschereau. And more pieces fell into place, as noted in the book description above.

He was a very well known and respected Canadian botanist, and it made sense that he wouldhave his own copy of this important work on west coast plant life.

No discount required! And, I found a special spot for display.