The art of preparing the fibrous skeletons of plants was understood and practiced by the Chinese during the Ming Dynasty. By the 17th century Europe had begun to follow this trend and by the 1860s, it had reached America as well.
There are a couple old books that were published in the Victorian era, regarding the process of leaf skeletonizing. First was published in 1863 by Edward Parrish, a noted pharmacist living in Philadelphia. The book is entitled "Phantom Bouquet" it is a rare book but can sometimes be found at old book stores. The second was published in Boston a year later in 1864. It is an entitled: "Phantom Flowers and Skeleton Leaves". It proclaims a treatise on the Art of producing skeleton leaves.
However, an even back dated study had been done in Europe by Marcus Aurelius Severinus, in 1645, professor of anatomy and surgery in Naples. According to the fashion of the time he kept the process a secret. So, we probably owe the first ever published explanation on plant-skeletons to a Dutch naturalist, Fredrick Ruysch. In 1723, he explained that, through the putrefactive fermentation promoted by warmth and moisture, the pulpy matter of leaf may be loosened so as to be separated from the fibrous skeleton, which may be preserved unimpaired.