Ferns of the Northwest

Every so often a bit of print history comes to my attention that strikes me as too beautiful not to share.

This exquisite collection of printing plates was used to print the 1934 edition of Ferns of the Northwest by Theodore C. Frye, an early 20th century botanist/biologist, who also published a field guide charmingly titled Elementary Flora of the Northwest.

You can see why this stuff is right up my alley.

The discovery of these plates for sale in Etsy Studio inspired me to look into the provenance of this book, the printing plates, and the history of the publisher. According to this link, Binfords and Mort was Oregon's first major book publisher. Established in 1930 as a publisher in fiction, the company soon discovered a niche in books about the Northwest.

There are moments in which I think the type of work I create is inevitable. Perhaps books like Ferns of the Northwest, with their delicate illustrations, are so deeply steeped in my soul that I can't help that this is how I express myself. Somehow I matched that sensibility with a love of printing, and here I am, admiring the work of printers three generations old, along with the naturalists who helped shape our understanding of the world's flora and its graphic representation.