SPRUCE, Richard. Alfred Russel WALLACE, ed. Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes being records of travel on the Amazon and its tributaries, the Trombetas, Rio Negro, Uaupés, Casiquiari, Pacimoni, Huallaga, and Pastasa; as also to the cataracts of the Orinoco, along the eastern side of the Andes of Peru and Ecuador, and the shores of the Pacific, during the years 1849-1864. Macmillan & Co, Ltd. 1908.
8vo. 2 vols. Publisher's green cloth with gilt lettering to spine, with front panel of very rare dustwrapper to volume ii; pp. lii + 518 + [2, ads], 49 illustrations, frontispiece portrait of Spruce, 3 maps, and xii + 542 + [2, ads], 22 illustrations, 4 maps; a little rubbing to spines, a little browning to endpapers, bindings a little loose, very good. Provenance: ffeps with ownership label of William Bertram Turrill, (1890-1961), English botanist and taxonomist. He was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Society, the OBE and the Gold Medal of the Linnean Society primarily for his work on the mathematical classification of leaf types.
First edition. Spruce first travelled to the Amazon at the age of 31; on his return fifteen years later, he was deaf in one ear, could not walk with pain due to paralysis of the legs and back and had suspected tuberculosis. Given these ailments, his travelling and prodigious work rate were astonishing as, quite apart from his work on the fauna of the region, he also learnt 21 different languages. He was instrumental in providing seeds from the cinchona to the British government to make the antimalarial drug quinine, and made the first detailed description of ayahuasca and its associated ceremonies. His discoveries of new species were phenomenal, including the coca plant and 200 species of fungi.
This book was put together by Wallace after the death of Spruce in 1893, and was one of Wallace's last works. He condensed Spruce's original text and added a very useful biographical chapter outlining the importance of his botanical work and drawing on his own experiences of crossing paths with Spruce in the Amazon. It was Spruce who oversaw Wallace's passage down the River Negro when he was overcome by malaria.