|This book examines the origin, printing, binding and distribution of Jacob Bigelow's American Medical Botany, the only book published in the United States to have its plates printed in color before the mid-nineteenth century introduction of chromolithography. It makes use of Dr. Bigelow's own papers to show that when his original plan of having his plates hand-colored proved overly ambitious, he and those working with him invented a method of printing the book's plates that prefigured and predated chromolithography by about two decades. This investigation of this landmark work also constitutes an important case study of the production, from conception to completion, of a significant book of that early period.
Two of Bigelow's original plates
are tipped in, one left uncolored and one colored by hand, to illustrate the difficulty of producing sixty hand-colored plates for a commercial book. These plates were rendered obsolete when the doctor and his cohorts discovered a novel way of printing in color. Each book contains one of the sixty sets of plates, so click here
to view a slideshow of some of the possible sets.Click here
to learn more.