MICHAUX, Francois Andre and NUTTALL, Thomas. North American Sylva; or A Description of the Forest Trees of the United States, Canada and Nova Scotia. Phila.: D. Rice & A.N. Hart, 1859. 5 Vols. 257 hand-colored plates (the Michaux vols. contain 156 handcolored engravings and the Nuttall vols. 121 hand-colored lithographs). 3/4 brown morocco over marbled boards, raised spine bands with compartments decorated in blind, gilt-lettered spines, A.e.gs. Library blindstamps on title pages, some light rubbing to boards, else very good or better. Bennett, p. 76. Meisel III, p. 436. Sabin 48695, 56351. This publication is the most important work relating to American trees prior to the 20th century. It is the product of the efforts of two of the greatest naturalists to work in 19th century America, Francois Andre Michaux and Thomas Nuttall. The beautifully executed plates illustrate leaves and nuts or berries of American trees across the continent. Sabin writes, "It is no exaggeration to remark that it is the most complete work of its kind, and is a production of unrivalled interest and beauty." Michaux's work is based on his extensive travels in the eastern half of America, and those of his father, from the 1790s on. Both men were friendly with Jefferson and other leading figures, who aided them in their work and travels. The plates were executed by the great French flower painter, Redoute, and his associate, Bessa. The sheets of the first effort at reprinting the work were destroyed by fire, but the copper plates were stored separately and thus survived to be employed in the later combined edition issued by Rice and Hart. Thomas Nuttall was one of the most intrepid American naturalists of his day, travelling extensively in the Mississippi valley and the Far West, in the 1820s and 1830s to gather botanical specimens. His work, designed to supplement Michaux's, covers eastern species overlooked by his predecessor and new species gathered by Nuttall. The publisher used the newer lithographic method for the Nuttall volumes, since they did not have engraved plates in stock, as they had for the Michaux.