|Published||London: Bradbury & Evan, 1855 [-1856].|
|Dimensions||Image 500 x 345 mm, Sheet 535 x 360 mm|
A colour nature printing from Thomas Moore's The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland. One of the first nature-printed books produced in England, Moore's work was produced by Henry Bradbury, the first British nature printer.
Nature printing was first developed in the 18th century. Direct impressions were taken from plants, rock, and animals, the specimens inked and printed onto paper. There is some debate as to who invented the process with some crediting Benjamin Franklin and others crediting Philadelphia naturalist Joseph Breintnall both of whom took direct printed impressions of leaves. Both gentlemen sent each other nature printed specimens, hence the debate over who invented the process. Alois Auer further developed Nature Printing in the 1850's by inviting a method involving electrotype. His method involved a specimen being rolled between two metal sheets, one of steel and one of lead, under intense pressure leaving a highly detailed impression. While the lead impression could be used to make a print the soft nature of the lead only allowed for a few good impressions to be taken. Auer then created wax moulds from the lead impressions, coated them in graphite powder, and made a copper plate through the electrotype process - a wet chemical bath of electrolyte solution with an electric current running through it.
Thomas Moore (May 21, 1821 - Junuary 1, 1887) was a British botanist and expert on ferns. Moore was the Curator of the Society of Apothecaries Garden from 1848 to 1887. He produced his seminal work The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland in 1855. He acted as an editor of the Gardeners' Magazine of Botany from 1850 to 1851, of the Garden Companion and Florists' Guide in 1852, of the Floral Magazine in 1860 and 1861, of the Gardeners' Chronicle from 1866 to 1882, of the Florist and Pomologist from 1868 to 1874, and of the Orchid Album from 1881 to 1887.
Henry Bradbury (1829-1860) was the son of publisher William Bradbury. He went into publishing with his brother William. Henry is known for his work with Thomas Moore on The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland. He had studied printing in Vienna and patented a method of nature printing in London without acknowledging the idea originated from Alois Auer. Controversy ensued.