Wilhelm Keller's rare rose catalogues from 1828, 1829 and 1833 now available

This review first appeared at Chez Vibert and was graciously provided by Brent Dickerson: 'One of our new members, Harald Enders, did me the favor of bringing to my attention a new book which was recently published by another of our members, Daphne Filiberti. It is a facsimile reprint of the rose catalogs for 1828, 1829, and 1833 of Wilhelm Keller of Duisburg-am-Rhein. I have now had an opportunity to pore over this book--indeed, for the last week, I have done little else! It is of very great interest, detailing varieties available during one of the richest periods of rose hybridizing. As it overlaps Desportes and Prevost and, with the 1833 catalog, gives us a stepping-stone between Desportes/Prevost and Boitard/Gore, we can gain some perspective which we didn't have before. All but a very few varieties have the color of the blossom indicated; some interesting or new varieties have a sentence or two or three.

I have gone over the listings line by line. The book adds to rose knowledge by allowing us to focus many many dates of introduction, usually by a year or two, or perhaps a decade; but in several instances a variety has gone from "-1885" or "date unk." to "-1833." Additionally, some varieties for which I had previously found no description whatsoever had a word or two of description in the Keller catalogs. In some cases in which Keller happens to give a synonym, it has allowed me to conflate two seeming varieties into one. In some cases, names or classifications can be corrected or adjusted.

The researcher will find a delightful challenge in using the Keller catalogs. 1828 and 1829 are in the old black-letter German typeface, which takes some getting used to. The descriptions in all cases are of course in German; it will perhaps surprise some that Keller has given us almost all of the rose-names in German as well. While this doesn't make any difference for such as 'Athalin' or 'Delaâge', the reader must be prepared to exercise his ingenuity when confronted by unfamiliar names such as 'Die Himmelskugel' or 'Die Jungfrau' ('Die Himmelskugel' is the Gallica 'Eucharis'; 'Die Jungfrau' is the Noisette 'La Mignonne').

As an example of how the Keller catalogs have provided new information, I can report that we can now be certain that the well- known China 'Fabvier' is -1829 rather than the 1832 which is usually seen. The important 'Quatre Saisons Blanc Mousseux' is -1833; the China 'Louis-Philippe', previously and universally assigned to 1834, is also demonstrably -1833 now.

We find, as well, many new varieties. One which we can enter in the "long rose-name" competition would be the Hybrid Noisette 'Thisbe mit Gelb- und Grüngestreifter Rinde und Bunte Blättern' (evidently a sport of the Hybrid Noisette 'Thisbe').

As I mentioned, in a few cases a variety is given several lines of description. Here, for instance, is a welcome description of what we know as the Bourbon 'Rose Edouard': "Blossom medium-sized, salver-form [i.e., flat], double, bright and shining deep pink. Hip longly ovate, glabrous and gray-green" (my own translation from Keller's German).

This is a useful book; and, further, it is a fine, worthy, and commendable thing to go to the trouble and expense of publishing such material. Thanks so much, Daphne! And thanks, Harald, for letting me know about it!'

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