66 fine lithographed cards with original hand-colour (ca 4 x 3 inches), tipped-in to loose sheets (10 x 13 4/8 inches) preserved in a tan cloth clamshell box.
Provenance: the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, their sale 21st November 1986, lot 122
A Superb collection of finely lithographed and hand-coloured cards, each depicting a particular saint concealed beneath an exquisite moveable flower emblem, the common and scientific name of the flower, the name of the saint, and a passage from scripture are all printed in German either above or below the image. While most of the cards were printed in Prague (44), 4 were issued by the esteemed firm of Benziger in Einsiedeln, 2 by N. Kremplsetzer in Ufer, one by W. Hoffman, and another 17 without imprint. Charles and Nicholas Benziger succeeded their father in his small publishing business in the Swiss mountain village of Einsiedeln in 1833, and "began the lithographing of religious pictures, as well as the coloring of them by hand, before the introduction of chromolithography. Charles Benziger, (1799 - 1873), a man of unusual strength and energy with a good classical education, devoted himself especially to the literary end of the business. In 1840 the "Einsiedler Kalender" was founded; it is still published and furnishes an interesting illustration of the development of the art of printing. Nicholas Benziger (1808 - 1864), took charge of the technical part of the business, proved himself a pioneer, introducing to the mountain village of Einsiedeln a series of improved trades methods as they appeared from time to time in the great centres of Europe and America. Under his guidance the work of book-binding, which was formerly carried on in the family at home, was systematized. In 1844 the old hand-press was superseded by the first power press. Stereotyping was introduced in 1846; in 1856 steel and copper printing; and in 1858 electrotyping. In 1853, a house was opened in New York" (Catholic Encyclopedia online). From the distinguished library of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation, originally dedicated in 1961 as the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library, an international center for bibliographical research and service in the interests of botany and horticulture, as well as a center for the study of all aspects of the history of the plant sciences. By 1971 the Hunt Botanical Library's activities had so diversified that the name was changed to Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation.