This sweet little book is entitled The Language and Poetry of Flowers. The author is Sarah Carter Edgarton. It is a wonderful portrayal of how Victorians viewed the symbolism and virtues associated with flowers, a rule of society that literally governed their lives. This miniature book was published in 1850, and is 168 years old!
Imagine a gentleman presenting a bouquet, and within it, are the hidden meanings of flowers. Young women delighted in this discovery of what their beau was silently saying. Women also sent messages via the way in which they presented a flower, the tilt of it, whether it had leaves or not, and much more. You might say it was a hidden language of lovers. What I love about this book is that it has the earlier meanings of flowers, which somewhat changed over the following 50 years, and this book is PRE-CIVIL WAR. For instance, the hydrangea in this book symbolized "Heartlessness", while later books say "Boastiness". There is also a quick reference Index for flowers, readily needed when one would be presented with a flower, and had to ascertain its meaning.
More Examples of the symbolism or sentiment of flowers are:
Alyssum = worth beyond beauty. Birch = gratefulness. Candytuft = indifference. Yellow chrysanthemum = a heart left to desolation. Clematis = mental excellence. Corn = wealth. Honeysuckle = fidelity. Marigold = contempt. Nasturtium = patriotism. Peony = ostentation. Bridal Rose = happy love. Strawberry = perfect excellence. Water lily = eloquence. Zinnia = I mourn for your absence.
Of course, there are many, many more, this is just a sampling. Below each virtue associated with the flower or plant is prose and poetry.
The front section details a plant and its symbolism and virtues, what it stood for. Then another glossary, Part 1, a quick reference with more of the same. Following that is Part 2, a sort of reverse lookup, with the virtue and then its associated flower. At the back, a few more pages, the Dial of Flowers, that details at what hour a flower would open and close.
The frontispiece has a colorful chromo with the title shown. This book is hardbound, with a gilt cartouche around the title and more gilt at the cover board edges. It is a very early scarce book, and again, a MINIATURE volume. The 180 inside pages are very clean and tight, with a nice patina, little foxing or wear, and the leading paper edges are gilt tipped. The first few pages have a little foxing, and the inside hinge papers are holding well. The spine has a little wear at the cover boards, about a quarter inch at each end on both sides of the spine. The spine is also highly decorated with gilt and the title.
Overall in VG condition for its age, and measures 2 5/8 x 3 7/8 inches. Books like this were often carried in the owner's dress or vest pocket, for quick reference when flower presentations called for! We ship books inexpensively using USPS Media Mail insured, but can send at the Priority Mail rate. Please toggle to see the Priority Mail as a second option.