A collection of exotics, from the Island of Antigua
Not a lot is known about the life of the botanist-artist Lydia Byam (born in 1772). The Byams were sugar plantation owners on Antigua, and Lydia’s brother William Gunthorpe was the governor of the island. A collection of exotics, from the Island of Antigua was published anonymously, but the twelve coloured plates of local flora are a testament to the talent of Byam. The work contains illustrations of e.g. guaiacum, cotton tree, logwood, cinamon, acacia, papaya and coffee tree. The JCB also has a copy of Byam’s other publication A collection of fruits from the West Indies (1800). Both works played an important role in increasing the interest in the plants growing in the expanding British Empire and are amongst the most rare botanical publications on the Americas.