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News: The Garden Club of America’s Rare Book Collection


August 29, 2019

Bibliophiles On Alert!

The Library of The Garden Club of America was established in 1914 with a gift of nine books. Since then the collection has grown to almost 4,000 volumes acquired by donations from GCA authors, GCA club members, their families, publishers, and other authors. 

The library collection includes 700 rare books that are housed at the Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Garden. They reflect major areas of the GCA’s focus: conservation and horticulture, flower show and floral design, garden history and design, civic improvement and garden journals. The Mertz Library and the GCA Rare Book Collection welcomes the gardening, horticultural and botanical community to visit and view. It is also available to the public.

The rare Royal Octavo Edition of John J. Audubon’s "The Birds of America" (printed between 1840 and 1844) may be the most famous in the Rare Books Collection. One of the oldest books in the collection is an early 17th century copy of Gerarde’s Herball, translated into English from the Dutch. Two prize editions in the field of botanical art are Mark Catesby’s The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands… of 1771, and Robert J. Thornton’s Temple of Flora of 1807. “Very few complete editions of The Temple of Flora exist today,” reports Julie Peet, GCA Librarian. 

Bibliophiles will be interested in the 17th to 20th century bindings, gardening manuals, travel books and handbooks. The collection includes letters written by Gertrude Jekyll when she contributed articles to the GCA Bulletin in 1920-21, as well as first editions of Edith Wharton’s and Rachel Carson’s works. One of the more recent acquisitions is a gift from the Lenox Garden Club of a rare international stamp collection featuring flowers throughout the world.

Housed at the Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Garden where climate control and security offer protection, the collection is readily available for research or viewing pleasure.

The Library is open during regular visiting hours. No appointment is necessary unless one is conducting in-depth research. Call or email ahead so the staff can get a jump start on locating your requests. CLICK HERE to search the on-line catalogue.

Top left image: Emanuel Sweerts’ Florilegium (1612) features 110 hand-colored plates of nursery stock in this example of an early nursery catalog. Left image: Timothy Sheldrake’s Botanicum medicinale (1768) features lovely, oval portraits of plants, like this fig, with cursive handwriting etched on the plates. Right image: The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes Gathered by John Gerarde (Early 17th Century)


In Other News...

A Moment in GCA History…
Famed Conservation Packet, An Educational Tool Stood The Test of Time
August 22, 2019

Marion “Timmy” Gallagher, Leaves a Horticultural Legacy 1919-2019
Honored in 1982 with the GCA Medal of Achievement
August 20, 2019


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