Journal of the History of Collections

‘His utter unfitness for a commercial collector’

Publication Date Jul 29, 2022


Abstract Non-European or ‘exotic’ plants became prestigious collectable items in the early nineteenth century. Although unpaid collectors contributed greatly to the discovery of new plants, systematic sponsored collecting became increasingly important after 1800 in Britain. While sharing features of natural history collecting, the organization and sponsorship of exotic plant collecting in the first half of the nineteenth century in Britain exhibits several distinctive features, notably the involvement of commercial sponsors and cooperation between commercial and scientific bodies. Using the Directors’ Correspondence of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, this article describes how individuals, consortia of sponsors and subscription systems assembled finance for plant collecting. The article demonstrates the extent to which plant introductions depended on a structured trade in plants, in which commercial nurseries played a central role. Plant collecting must be understood as an episode not only in the history of garden design, but also in the history of collections.


Plant Collecting Trade In Plants Nineteenth Century In Britain Century In Britain History Collecting Early Nineteenth Century Scientific Bodies Involvement Of Sponsors Distinctive Features Nineteenth Century

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No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. The conception and design of the study, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretatio...

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