Borrowed from the name of the ancient Roman goddess of tree fruit, pomona is the learned term for apples and pears. These fruits grow particularly well in the English county of Herefordshire. Concerned with the need to restock orchards with older varieties that might otherwise be in danger of dying out, the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club, whose members included some of the county's most prominent citizens, set up a ‘pomona committee’ in the mid-1870s. (Woolhope is a village about ten kilometres east of the city of Hereford.) The committee organised annual apple and pear exhibitions and invited respected ‘pomologists’ to inspect the samples of fruit submitted by local growers and check the identifications. They also prepared a lavishly illustrated catalogue of the fruit.
Robert Hogg, Vice-President of the Royal Horticultural Society and editor of the RHS Journal, provided scholarly descriptions of each variety. Henry Graves Bull, a physician at Hereford Infirmary and one of the driving forces behind the Woolhope Club, handled the other editorial tasks. Bull's daughter, Edith Elizabeth, was one of the two artists responsible for painting the apples and pears. The other was Alice Blanche Ellis. With finance provided by subscriptions from the gentry of Herefordshire and neighbouring counties, no expense was spared in reproducing the paintings in large chromolithographic plates. The Club employed the services of the Belgian firm G. Severyns, considered the best chromolithographers in Europe.
A masterpiece of Victorian craftmanship, The Herefordshire pomona was originally issued in seven instalments, spaced about a year apart. In 1885 the parts were bound into two-volume sets. The Library's two-volume copy was donated by Auckland newspaper editor, arts patron and philanthropist Thomas Wilson Leys in 1908.