HUNZIKER, JAKOB. B.1831.
Nature's Selfprinting: a Series of Useful and Ornamental Plates of the South Indian Flora ... Taken from Fresh Specimens in Facsimile Colors. Mangalore: Botanautographed and Published by J. Hunziker, Basel Mission Press, 1862.
2 volumes. Folio (415 x 310 mm). Half-titles, each volume with 2 frontispieces and 2 titles in vernacular and English with nature-printed vignettes, 5 part-titles, 422 nature-printed plates (one of which is folding), most with printed captions and captions in 2 further alphabets supplied in manuscript. Modern calf. A few leaves creased, the first 25 plates of volume 2 with 2 circular patches of loss restored in manuscript, 3 plates with tears repaired, the folding plate with edge repairs, 15 plates with minimal insect damage to fore-edge.
EXTREMELY RARE EXAMPLE OF INDIAN NATURE-PRINTING: WorldCat locates only three copies, none appear in the auction records.
Initially developed in the 18th century, nature printing gained popularity in 1853 with the publication of a manual by the Austrian Alois Auer. In his system, a leaf was impressed by a roller into a lead plate that was then inked-up so that the image could be transferred onto paper. Perhaps the best-known nature-printed works are Henry Bradbury's The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland (1857) and Nature-Printed British Seaweeds (185960).
Little is known about Hunziker. He was born in Switzerland, and arrived in India in 1856, serving as Superintendent of the Press at Mangalore. By 1870 his missionary work had taken him to North America. "The process of Printing from fresh plants was found to be a difficult undertaking requiring much time and attention, therefore only a small number of copies have been compiled. In collecting the specimens, which was done principally during the monsoon season, the young plant, entire, with root, was always preferred, if procurable, to a single branch or leaf, and if the limited size of the paper would admit of it's being delineated" (Introduction).
- Does not include the Appendix on the "Hill Ferns of Nilagri" found in the British Library copy.