Item SAD - Sadler caricature

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Sadler caricature


  • 1872 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 sheet

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born Fife, 1837; died Edinburgh 1882
John Sadler joined the staff of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 1854, working in the propagating department and herbarium before becoming assistant to Regius Keeper Professor J.H. Balfour, a post he held for almost 25 years. He was appointed curator (principal gardener) at the Garden in 1879. An inveterate rambler he gained a great knowledge of the Scottish flora, especially the flora of Perthshire, and discovered many new stations for plants, several of which perpetuate his name. Sadler lectured regularly to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, which he served as Assistant Secretary from 1858 until 1879. Known as a genial, good natured man his many other professional and social memberships included being a founder member of the Scottish Alpine Botanical Club (1868) and Secretary of the Scottish Arboricultural Society from 1862 to 1879. An all round practical botanist, he was awarded the Neill Prize in 1869 and also lectured in botany at the Royal High School for over 20 years. In 1881 he took charge of the development of the Arboretum, then administered separately from the Garden. While engaged in planting the Arboretum in December snow he caught a chill and died at the age of 45, leaving a widow and 7 children.
Sources: R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists; HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; (Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’); obituary folder.

Archival history

image was in possession of Harry Tagg, who gave it to Helen Miller, who gave it to Paddy Woods, and therefore came to be in possession of Jennifer Woods, who donated it to the RBGE Archives in November 2014.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

J. Woods

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Watercolour and ink drawing of 3 mycologists flying high in a mushroon / toadstool shaped hot air balloon entitled "Authorities high in Fungi, 1872" in John Sadler's handwriting - image could very well have been painted by John Sadler. The figure in glasses is likely Miles Berkeley; the figure with red beard could be John Sadler, but more likely to be Mordecai Cooke, the third figure is too indistinct to identify.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

filed within Sadler papers, despite coming from different source

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Conditions governing access

open access

Conditions governing reproduction

not to be reproduced without permission from RBGE

Language of material

  • English

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Physical characteristics and technical requirements

good, but stuck to paper inside frame - frame removed, but paper will likely need a conservator.

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