A List of Lists

The title ‘A List of Lists’ does not conjure the most thrilling of reads but after buying the catalogue listing the postcards of Catharina Klein at auction recently I realised how many lists relating to roses there were in the library. I love them and have purposely collected lists of roses, books, people and even rose gardens. I also make my own lists for the library which include lists of rose artists, rose bibliographies, biographies and, of course, the rose books.

Catharine Klein Postcard Catalogue
Postcard Album

Let us start with lists of roses and the dedicated rose historian Brent C. Dickerson who in his book ‘Old Roses: The Master List’ listed every old rose known to the Western World. In the second edition published in 2007 he lists 23,355 which is an increase of 1,603 over the first edition. He admits that this list took more than a quarter of century to compile. A work of dedicated research. Others have attempted it but not as successfully.

Brent Dickerson Rose Books
Two of Dickerson’s many books

There are a number of rose lists to be found which catalogue personal collections such as those grown by Jules Gravereaux in Paris, in his beautiful rose garden Roseraie de L’Hay and published in his catalogue in 1900 or the list of roses grown in the garden at Nymans compiled by Leonard and Muriel Messel and published in their ‘Garden Flora’ in 1918. The early catalogues published in the 19th century, by rose growers such as Thomas Rivers or William Paul list many of the roses they grew for sale and give us a wonderful record of the development of rose varieties. Throughout the years of the National Rose Society they published regularly ‘A Selected List of Varieties’ which was of use to the amateur rose growers of the day.

Yellow rose illustration
A page within an 1880s catalogue of William Paul.

Lists of roses for sale in catalogue form have been published for over 200 years and remain popular today. In one or two cases they resemble sizeable books which gives some indication of the thousands of rose varieties there are available. It is doubtful whether any attempt could be made to list all roses that have been grown during the last 100 years as so many thousands have come in and out of production.

Rhododendron illustration
Leonard and Muriel Messel compiled a list of all the plants and trees in the gardens at Nymans. Alfred Parsons provided the illustrations.

The lists of books are the most obvious lists to be found in the library. Not only is there a list of all known rose books published since the first in 1789 and the list of those books which are in the library but there are also several bibliographies of rose books published at various times during the last century which have been compiled by enterprising people such as K.L. Stock or Werger and Burton. The lists of rose books include those compiled by William Paul and Jules Gravereaux mentioned above and Claude Anthoine Thory who wrote the text for ‘Les Roses’, the book of paintings by Pierre -Joseph Redoute. These lists of books are interesting to read especially when you realise you have collected many of them.

Botanical Literature Book
There can only be one rose book in this Bibliography!

Rose bibliographies are central to the library lists but as a result of the nature of rose research and the collecting habit of the librarian other bibliographies have found a place on the shelves. Bibliographies of Herbals, Horticultural and Gardening Books, Botanical works and even a list of books that were in the extensive library at Nymans before the dreadful fire which destroyed the library and much of the house in 1948.

Magnificent Botanical Books
Nearly as good as a bibliography of Botanical books is this Sothebys catalogue produced when they sold the library of Robert De Belder in the 1980s.

It is not surprising that lists of people feature too. Jack Harkness wrote his very readable book, ‘The Makers of Heavenly Roses’ in 1985 and Brent Dickerson once again published a well researched ‘Roll Call: The Old Rose Breeder’ a gazetteer of Breeders, Introducers and their roses up to 1920. Surely it will not be long before a modern list is published. A number of rosarians have had their biographies written so it will not be surprising to know that a collection of these has been made for the library and a bibliography written!

A few biographies and an autobiography.
A few biographies and an autobiography.

It has been possible to compile a list of over 100 professional rose painters, past and present, for the library and collect several published dictionaries and compilations of flower painters and illustrators. During the tedium of the last few months it has been enjoyable researching the early rose postcard painters and collecting information about their lives so a list can be produced for a publication which includes the early 20th century rose art postcards and their contribution to the horticultural and social history of the rose. This brings me back to the beginning of this article as Catharina Klein is one of these artists. Her list of paintings is over 2,000 long!

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