Liz Perks

Discovering Rebecca Ann Foster (1867- 1951)

“This story is an extract from a biography of Rebecca Foster currently being written”

The artist R A Foster came into my life quite by chance and for a frustratingly long time s/he remained just that, an artist or more specifically a painter named ‘R A Foster’. I had no idea whether s/he was male or female but I suspected from the style and subject of the paintings s/he may be female although one should never make stereotypical assumptions. After remaining nameless for months it was a eureka moment when I discovered, from an art auction site, that she was actually Rebecca Ann.  I was then able to start searching for further information in earnest knowing that I had a good chance of researching the correct person. I wanted to put a face to the name and create the real person called Rebecca Ann Foster.

The discovery of this name, this person who has come to mean so much to me, was inevitable. Being an avid collector of rose memorabilia and ephemera as well as rose books and paintings it is not surprising that I found the name ‘R A Foster’ on a postcard which showed a vase of colourful roses. I expect at the time I was looking for cards illustrating the rose paintings of  Catharina Klein which I collect. Klein’s cards are easily recognisable and collectible as she has painted over two thousand pictures of flowers and fruit for the postcard publishers. Her cards are from the early years of the 20th century and bring my love of this period of history, art and flowers together. Over time as I collected these cards I gathered together a chosen selection of other beautiful card paintings of roses by other artists. Cards with the name R A Foster seemed to emerge on a regular basis.

The more cards I found with the distinctive R A Foster signature the more I needed to find out about her as a person. I have discovered many more of Rebecca’s paintings on cards since that very first card while I have been researching into her history. Now I have quite a sizeable collection. This has instigated the catalogue of her cards at the end of this story about her flowers, which I hope will help any future collectors. I must admit although I have  come across several other artists  who were painting roses and other flowers for postcards there are few I like quite so much as hers and no other artists apart from Catharina Klein seem to have been as successful.

The more cards I found with the distinctive R A Foster signature the more I needed to find out about her as a person. I have discovered many more of Rebecca’s paintings on cards since that very first card while I have been researching into her history. Now I have quite a sizeable collection. This has instigated the catalogue of her cards at the end of this story about her flowers, which I hope will help any future collectors. I must admit although I have  come across several other artists  who were painting roses and other flowers for postcards there are few I like quite so much as hers and no other artists apart from Catharina Klein seem to have been as successful.

In the early years of the 20th century, after the printing of postcards allowed for one side to be dedicated to a picture, there was a boom in postcard publishing. When looking at the postcards that have survived from this time today it is evident a large proportion of the British public wanted to send short messages to friends and family, collect cards for their albums or send postcards to others for collecting. The surge in postcard sales was greatest before the first war but it continued into the 1920s to a lesser degree. It was only after the war that Rebecca sold paintings for postcards although evidence shows  she started painting professionally in 1898. Roses, at this time, were also very popular with new varieties being grown, rose shows that exhibited these new plants and the National Rose Society promoting the rose. It was steadily growing in popularity and being supported by a greater cross section of society. More  people generally were becoming interested in gardening and the growing of roses. It is not surprising, therefore, that many flower postcards were dedicated to the rose.

From 1898 Rebecca painted many works, all of flowers as far as I know. I have seen one or two pencil sketches of children by her but no finished works. From 1898, when at art college or soon after until her death in 1951 she painted avidly producing many works for exhibition both at local galleries and those further afield. In later years she painted for the postcard but she did not give up exhibiting her colourful flower paintings. Her paintings must be scattered far and wide adorning the homes of many who appreciate her work. I have a small collection of her original work which I cherish, some prints and many postcards. Further works occasionally come up for sale but not often and strangely they command quite a range of prices.

In this story about her life and her flowers I have tried to encapsulate a talented artist, a keen lover of flowers and a truly successful woman of her time who deserves to be remembered as such. I hope she would approve of what I have to say and to forgive me for any limitations. I have searched for detail from a number of sources but this did not take on a human perspective until I was contacted by her great granddaughter who has helped me with so much knowledge. Information from  ancestry websites, the Nottinghamshire Archives, galleries and auction houses remained specifically factual  until it was placed within a human context.

At the end of the booklet I have listed all the cards, of which I am aware,  that show her paintings. I hope that I have done this in a manner that the collector can tick off the ones s/he has and add any of the many I have not found.

Discovering Rebecca Ann Foster (1867- 1951) Read More »

Dust/book -wrappers/jackets

I am currently researching the history and development of the covers and dust jackets of the rose books. It is part of a larger work looking at the history and development of the Rose Book as a whole.

The earliest jacket I have is on a revised edition of ‘The Rose Book’ dated 1922. I did not realise that underneath this jacket lay a subdued version of the beautiful binding of 1914, which as far as I am aware did not have a jacket. In fact, in my ignorance I had not realised that the two books were essentially the same book!

This book is interesting in that it illustrates the transition between the decline of the fine binding with dust wrapper and the rise of the plain binding with book jacket. (You may choose different terminology).

The history of dust wappers, dust jackets, book jackets is an interesting one for those interested in books and is worth reading about in one of the many good ‘books about books’, which I seem to be collecting as a result of the research I am doing.

I do not think this will be the first book jacket to be found on a Rose Book so have made an enquiry with the British Library. I am hoping they will be able to tell me the first wrapper to exist. It is likely to be many years previously because the majority of books would have been issued with a dust wrapper but these were usually discarded being regarded as purely a cover to keep the book clean.

Dust/book -wrappers/jackets Read More »

Ebay Shop

During the years I have been collecting my rose library together I have acquired many duplicates, triplicates and . . . . . I love all my books but space is now at a premium (and funds are low) so I thought it was about time objectivity and organisation took over in the form of an ebay book shop.

I find it quite sad that a beautiful book, full of colourful illustrations may be worth so little but I have tried to keep my prices at a minimum. If a book is not worth £5.00, according to other sellers on ebay, then I will not list it.

You will find various categories in the shop as not all the books for sale are rose books although the majority are garden related. I have literally hundreds to sell but I find listing slow and tedious so please enquire if there is a particular book you need.

Ebay Shop Read More »

British books dedicated to the rose illustrated by either the author or a commissioned artist.

The following list of books are illustrated in colour by an artist rather than a photographer. They have been illustrated by the author or commissioned for the book. (Two exceptions which I have included are The King Penguin and ‘A Garden of Roses’ edited by Graham Stuart Thomas. The first includes Redoute illustrations and the second illustrations by Alfred Parsons.

‘A Collection of Roses from Nature’ (1799) Mary Lawrence

‘Roses: or a Monograph of the Genus Rosa’ (!805’1828) H.C. Andrews

‘Rosarium Monographia: or a botanical history of roses’ (1820,1830) John Lindley

‘The Rose Garden’ (1848) William Paul.

‘Beauities of the Rose’ (1850,1853) Henry Curtis

‘The Amateur’s Rose Book’ (1874) Shirley Hibberd

‘Roses and their Culture’ (1892) W.D. Prior

‘Roses and their Cultivation’ (1899) T.W. Sanders

‘Roses’ (1911) H.R. Darlington

‘Beautiful Roses for Gardens and Greenhouse’ (1903) John Weathers’

‘The Amateur Gardener’s Rose book’ (1905) Julius Hoffmann

‘Roses and Rose Gardens’ (1911) Walter P. Wright

‘Genus Rosa’ (1914) Ellen Willmott

‘Rose Gardening: how to manage roses and enjoy them’ (1921) Mary Hampden

‘A Book of Roses’ (1939) J. Ramsbottom

‘Old Garden Roses’ (1955, 1957) Sitwell, Russell and Blunt

‘Collins Guide to Roses’ (1956) Bertram Park

‘Climbing Roses Old and New (1965) Graham Stuart Thomas

‘Roses’ (1965) Anne Ophelia Dowden and Richard Thomson

‘Methuen Handbook of Roses’ (1966) Eigil Kiaer

‘Roses’ (1969) C.C. Harris

‘Roses’ (1971) Ludvik Vecera

‘Shrub Roses for Every Garden’ (1973) Michael Gibson

‘Shrub Roses of Today’ (1974) Graham Stuart Thomas

‘Roses’ (1976) Kenneth A. Beckett

‘The Book of the Rose’ (1980) Michael Gibson

‘A Garden of Roses’ (1987) edited by Graham Stuart Thomas

‘The Complete Flower Paintings and Drawings of Graham Stuart Thomas (1987)

‘The Concise Illustrated Book of Roses’ (1989) Beatrix Hamilton

‘Roses in a Suffolk Garden’ (1990) Josephine Walpole

‘A Little Book of Old Roses’ (1992) Hazel le Rougetel

‘The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book’ (1994) Graham Stuart Thomas

‘A Little Book of Modern Roses’ (1995) Hazel le Rougetel

‘Roses’ (1996) Lindsay Bousfield

‘Roses: a celebration (2003) Wayne Winterrowd

‘Rosie Sander’s Roses: a celebration in botanical art (2009) Rosie Sanders

British books dedicated to the rose illustrated by either the author or a commissioned artist. Read More »

Notes and Ephemera.

The library has a good selection of paper ephemera relating to roses in the form of cards, tickets, programmes, pictures, photos etc. Some are not important but just collectible. As a result, I have always kept a book or two in which to preserve these items that would otherwise be lost. I am a firm believer that everyone should collect their own personal ephemera to represent their main interest in life whether it be their children, their garden, their cooking, their sport etc. In this way a huge amount of social history would be available for the next generations.

I have made my books to suit myself but I thought it would be an idea to make some for the library; books in which to keep notes or ephemera. I have many old and duplicate Rose books which are extremely common so wish to put these to good use. I sell some on Ebay but others I would not expect anyone to want because of the state they are in. Some parts can be recycled though into ‘new’ books or bookmarks. I have spent some time, therefore, making a few books and am currently thinking of ways to ‘personalise’ them for the library.

A favourite paper.
With a rose book front cover.

Notes and Ephemera. Read More »

More from Catharina Klein.

You may be aware that I am a fan of Catharina Klein; collecting her postcards, book illustrations and more recently one or two of her painting books. I would dearly love to own an original painting but have never seen one, signed by her, available. I have one that looks very much like her work but it is unsigned, so is believed to be by one of her followers. She must have painted thousands of pictures during her long painting career and always signed her work, so it is believed.

Catharina had a studio in Berlin from which she held art classes but this was not her only method of helping others to paint. In the early 1900s Raphael Tuck and Sons published a number of her painting books. These had either two or four of her postcards on the left hand page with outlines of the cards on the right hand side which could be coloured. Similar to the adult painting books that have become popular today. The paintings could be removed from the book and sent as postcards.

I am not quite sure how many books were published but I have found three and I expect there are more out there.

More from Catharina Klein. Read More »

‘Beautiful Roses’ (1903) by John Weathers.

‘Beautiful Roses’ (1903).

Two books: same title, same year, same author, same text.

Illustration by John Allen.

These two beautiful examples of the same book have been hiding on the shelves for some time and it is only recently, while I have been working on the illustration of the early rose books, that they have resurfaced. I was delighted when I became reacquainted because I love the 33 illustrations by John Allen. I am sure the text is worthy too but as you may know I am all about rose art and literature rather than rose cultivation.

John Weathers was not a great rosarian but he was extremely knowledgeable in the field of horticulture. He wrote several books including ‘A Practical Guide to Garden Plants’, ‘The Bulb Book’, ‘French Market Gardening’, ‘Commercial Gardening’, and ‘A Practical Guide to School, Cottage and Allotment Gardens’, as well as contributing to the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. I am also delighted to discover that he translated from German a similarly lovely book by Julius Hoffmann ‘The Amateur Gardener’s Rose Book’.

John Weathers worked at Kew Gardens before becoming Superintendent of the Middlesex County Council’s School of Gardening and a lecturer in horticulture. I have yet to research fully John Allen, the illustrator, but initially there does not seem to be any information available. Further work needs to be done.

More rose illustrations from the book ‘Beautiful Roses’ by John Weathers.

‘Beautiful Roses’ (1903) by John Weathers. Read More »

The mystery of the two books.

While I was writing about one mystery I thought I would mention another that has arisen over the last few days. I have recently joined the Instagram world and am very much enjoying following a number of book collectors and dealers, especially those that are interested, as I am, in Victorian and Edwardian literature. This has caused me to look more closely at many of my books some of which, I must admit, I have taken very much for granted.

I came across these two on the same shelf. They have the same binding although a different colour, they have the same title but they are totally different texts, written by two different authors and published fifteen years apart, 1903 and 1918.

I can only think that because they are both on a similar subject and published by the same company, C.Arthur Pearson Ltd that an attempt has been made to save costs on the second book (Edwin Beckett) as the country was suffering from a terrible war and finances would be scarce.

The mystery of the two books. Read More »

Podrome de la Monographie and its mystery.

This tiny little book written in 1820 by Claude Antoine Thory (1759-1827), hides amongst the Rosarian Library’s French texts. It is tiny in stature but not in nature as it is linked with ‘Les Roses’ by Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840) for whom Thory wrote the text that describes each one of Redoute’s 169 paintings.

This little book is a brief summary of each of the species and varieties of rose that are known to exist at this time, most of which are illustrated in ‘Les Roses’. So what is the mystery? In the book there are two illustrations only and they state the artist to be H.J Redoute. I presume each is a misprint!

Title page.

Illustration 1.

Illustration 2.

Podrome de la Monographie and its mystery. Read More »

‘Rosarum Monographia’ (1820)

This botanical text is the third book to be written dedicated to the Rose, with ‘A Collection of Roses from Nature’ (1799) by Mary Lawrence and ‘Roses: or a monograph of the Genus Rosa being numbers one and two respectively. The artwork and the text are both the work of John Lindley (1799-1865) and it was published by James Ridgway of London.

The 1820 edition and the 1830 edition are both in the library but are in rather a sorry state which is perhaps not surprising as one is over 200 years old and the other not far off the 200 years.

Lindley was an erudite botanist who worked tirelessly to clarify the species roses and these texts feature the roses which he felt were species roses separating them from those that had become hybridised. His work did not only involve roses; he was very keen on orchids and other flowers. Lindley was appointed assistant secretary to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and its new garden at Chiswick in 1822 and became professor of Botany at University College London in 1829. His achievements were many and now he is remembered through the RHS Lindley Library, a place which helps us with our horticultural research.

Illustration from the 1820 text.

The 1820 text with an illustration from the 1830 edition.

‘Rosarum Monographia’ (1820) Read More »

James Hadley – thank you.

Has your eye ever been caught by the beautiful Worcester porcelain pottery covered with the old fashioned roses of yesteryear? I have often lingered by the shelves at the antique fairs and coveted many a pot pourri jar or tall elegant vase. I have  two small examples but the decision not to buy more has usually been influenced by the cost and the fear of breakage.

We have James Hadley to thank for these gorgeous rose designs painted on the fine pottery made in the 19th and 20th centuries. By 1870 James Hadley had become the principal modeller at Royal Worcester Porcelain but in 1875 he left to set up his own modelling studio. However, he was contracted to sell the complete output of his ornamental vases and figurines to Royal Worcester, with his name inscribed on the base of his master models.

A small piece in my collection painted by Millie Hunt.

A drop in demand for luxury goods at the end of the 19th century led to James Hadley’s contract with Royal Worcester being cancelled. Not to be defeated he rented factory space from an old friend, Edward Locke, before building his own factory in 1897. His early production focused on his distinctive decorative art pottery. Employing a team of young talented artists including William Jarman, Walter Powell, Arthur Lewis, Walter Sedgley, Albert Shuck, Kitty Blake and Mary Eaton, his beautiful roses were painted and immortalised. Other designs included peacocks and game birds.

The softly painted roses in full bloom became known as the Hadley Roses even though his team of artists were responsible for their painting. It was not traditional for a piece of pottery to be signed before 1900 but if you do have one signed by one of these painters you are truly fortunate. There are items painted by some of them dated well into the 20th century; each pottery piece has marks that allow it to be dated accurately.

The first piece of Worcester porcelain I bought.

In 1900 Hadley and Sons became a limited company but in 1905 James Hadley died and Royal Worcester purchased his factory. In 1906 all the workforce, moulds and designs moved to the main Royal Worcester factory. The letter ‘H’ was added to the Royal Worcester design number on the base of its pieces when they produced the Hadley designs. These changes can help date some of the pieces from around the turn of the 20th century.

As the century progressed new names were added to the group of talented artists painting these iconic rose masterpieces. One such artist Mildred ‘Millie’ Hunt is now very popular with collectors as her pieces portray very traditional Hadley Roses. Her pots range between 1926 and 1950.  Other names include James Llewellyn, Gladys Farley, Harry Austin and John Ansell.

A beautiful display at my local antiques fair. The piece with the tag is the second piece I bought. How wonderful to own one of the larger pieces. One day perhaps.

Changing fortunes led to a merger between Royal Worcester and Spode in 1976 and due to heavy competition from overseas the production was switched to factories in Stoke on Trent and abroad. Sadly from the year 2000 onwards the production of this historic porcelain continued to decline with the workforce shrinking. Finally the company went into administration in 2008 with the last production of Royal Worcester being in 2009. Having been founded in 1751, over 250 years of producing beautiful porcelain works of art came to a dramatic and extremely sad end with the closure of Royal Worcester. Another thread of our social tapestry lost for ever.

Portmeiron did acquire the brand name and intellectual property but 2009 saw the end of Royal Worcester Porcelain.

James Hadley – thank you. Read More »

Back for the new year 2022.

After a break I am back and ready for the new year ahead. During the year there have been several books dedicated to the rose published but my favourite is ‘By Any Other Name: A Cultural History of the Rose’ by Simon Morley. My opinion is not at all swayed by the fact that Simon gives credit to me in his acknowledgements but I am swayed by the fact that I feel Simon offers us new ideas and a commentary that is different from previous authors.

Two other new books worthy of note, both beautiful in very different ways

A great new book worthy of presence in any library.

Back for the new year 2022. Read More »

Small and beautiful . . . . .

Recently I added some of the coffee table books to this online library. In contrast I have looked out a few of the small books to add. On average these measure 10cm by 15cm. They vary in age going from the 19th century to the late 20th century. I think you will agree that each has its own merits in appearance but surely you cannot beat the title ‘Roses: a celebration in words and paintings’. Something I would like to do every day in the very same way that this book has done.

Small and beautiful . . . . . Read More »

Beautiful covers and spines.

Although dust jackets have been around for nearly 200 years for the protection of book covers it was not until the 20th century that they arrived in all their artistic glory. Prior to this, many books had ornate and artistic tooled bindings. In the case of rose books this disguised the fact that there were few illustrations within. Black and white woodcut illustrations were quite common but colourful illustrations were very expensive to produce so were rarely included. Occasionally two editions of a book were printed as in the case of ‘A Book about Roses’; a Popular Edition and a Presentation Edition. The :Popular Edition contained the text but had no painted rose frontispiece or gold embossing on the cover. It was, however, cheaper and more affordable for a wider public.

I have included here a selection of the ornate 19th century rose books in the library. Some I have included before but one or two I think are worthy of a repeat performance!

The attractive spines.

‘Amateurs Rose Book (1894) Shirley Hibberd.

‘The Rose Book’ 1913) H. H. Thomas.

‘A Book about Roses’ (1869) 18th Ed. Twentieth Century.

‘The Book of Roses’ (1922) Louis Durand.

‘A Book about Roses’ (1869) 1st Ed.

‘Cultivated Roses’ (1899) Sanders T.W.

‘Beauties of the Rose’ (1850-1853) Henry Curtis.

Beautiful covers and spines. Read More »

Journal des Roses (1877 – 1914).

Vibrant chromolithographed illustrations from the French monthly rose journal founded by Scipion Cochet (1833-1896). ‘Journal des Roses’ was a magazine started by a rose grower for rose lovers and it was a popular magazine from its foundation in 1877 until its demise at the beginning of World War 1.

Every month there would be a coloured illustration, a few of which can be seen here, taken from the journals for 1885 and 1886.

The library holds journals from the years 1885, 1886, 1887 and 1888. The twelve copies from each year are bound into attractive volumes. I will photograph these together with some other French books for the library section.

Journal des Roses (1877 – 1914). Read More »

Poetry and Roses.

I do love it when literature and roses come together and in this case poetry. To add even more interest this is about the poetry of Lord Byron and the paintings of Catharina Klein. When I discovered that Catharina had illustrated a book of poetry entitled ‘Rubies from Byron’ I just had to find it. It is a beautiful little book bound in a soft suede but I had no idea of the date it was published.

Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) lived before Catharina Klein (1861-1929). The publishers De Wolfe, Fiske and Co. existed between 1880 and 1905 so the book must have been published during that period.

‘The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!

Where burning Sappho loved and sung,

Where grew the arts of war and peace, –

Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!

Eternal summer gilds them yet,

But all, except their sun is set.

Poetry and Roses. Read More »

Histoire des Roses.

‘Histoire des Roses’ (1819) by Charles Malo. A beautiful little book with twelve illustrations by P. Bessa. Measuring only 9cm by 13cm its plain cloth green cover disguises the beauty within. It is unbelievable knowing this book is 200 years old.

In 2017 when the Royal National Rose Society had to close its doors and gardens I was lucky enough to buy the books from the extensive library that had been collected over nearly 150 years. Among those books were about 50 French ones, some of which have beautiful illustrations. I look at these regularly but the little book above had become overlooked as it sits on the shelf with several other little books.

Title page.

Three of the twelve illustrations.

Histoire des Roses. Read More »

19th century book illustrations

During the 19th century, early 20th century, it was extremely expensive to illustrate a book about roses using colour. Where images were used wood cut images were preferred. The one or two books that did contain colour were either books including images painted and lithographed by the author such as ‘Beauties of the Rose’ by Henry Curtis or ‘Rosarium Monographia’ by John Lindley or a book such as ‘The Rose Garden’ by William Paul for which, after much hard work, the author managed to acquire sponsorship.

Fortunately for us, 150 years or more later, the illustrations within some of these books have remained just as bright and beautiful as when first printed. For some of us the illustrations will have far greater appeal than the text!

From ‘Genus Rosa’ (1910-1914) Ellen Willmott

‘Rosarium Monographia. (1820) John Lindley.

‘Beauties of the Rose’ (1850-1853) Henry Curtis.

‘Beauties of the Rose’

‘Beauties of the Rose’

‘Rosenbuch’ Dr Julius Hoffmann. (Undated)

‘Beauties of the Rose’

William Paul Catalogue 1890’s

‘Beauties of the Rose’.

‘Genus Rosa’.

Supplement to ‘The Rose Garden’ (1853)


‘The Rose Garden’ (1848).

‘Beauties of the Rose’

19th century book illustrations Read More »

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