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A Curious Herbal, containing five hundred cuts of the most useful plants, which are now used in the Practice of Physick
London: Samuel Harding, 1737. 2 volumes, folio. (17 1/2 x 11 inches). 2 engraved title-pages, 8 engraved dedicatory leaves (6 in vol. 1, 2 in vol. 2), one engraved commendation from the Royal College of Physicians in vol. 1, 2 engraved preface leaves in vol. 1, 2 engraved leaves "English index" (one in each volume), 2 engraved leaves "Catalogus Plantarum" (one in each volume), 125 engraved text leaves and 500 hand-coloured engraved plates. Extra-illustrated with: a folding hand coloured counterproof of an engraved plate titled "Peruvian Bark Tree" by J. Mynde after Johannes Hawkeens' drawing of 1739, published 1741, with an extensive manuscript caption; and a contemporary original watercolor drawing on laid paper with faint pencil caption "Scylla rubra offic.," unsigned. Scattered foxing. Contemporary black morocco, covers with wide gilt border composed of small tools and a central gilt device comprised of the same small tools, spines in eight compartments with raised bands, red morocco lettering pieces in the second compartments, the others with a repeat decoration in gilt, marbled endpapers, gilt edges (expert repairs at joints and head and tail of spine).Provenance: Josiah Messer (early signature); George Hubbard (bookplate); Ladislaus von Hoffmann.A stunning large-paper, hand-coloured copy of the first edition of Blackwell's famed herbal: the first herbal illustrated by a woman and one of the earliest English books with hand coloured plates. This copy extra-illustrated with an original watercolour.Elizabeth Blackwell undertook her project in 1735 with the encouragement of various eminent members of the medical profession and with the intention of paying off the debts of her husband Alexander Blackwell, whose London printing-house had been ruined by rival printers. She took a house opposite the Chelsea Physic Garden, at 4 Swan Walk in order to draw and engrave the plants and create an up-to-date illustrated text of medicinal plants previously lacking in the botanical fields. Her husband helped by supplying the common names of the plants in various languages. The work was a success, and she earned enough to free her husband from debtor's prison. She then emigrated to Sweden with her husband where he found employment as an agricultural expert (Linnaeus visited him in 1746)."This, with Martyn and Catesby, is one of the early flower books published in parts. Each numbered leaf was issued with the four plates described on it, at the rate of one a week for 125 weeks. Beginning in 1737, the parts continued into 1739. Hand-colored parts sold for two shillings, ordinary parts for one" (Hunt). The present copy is an early issue, with both titles dated 1737, and the "Vol. 2" on Volume 2 title-page not altered in manuscript. According to Henrey, "there is no uniformity with regard to the number of dedications contained in the various issues, or in the order in which the preliminary leaves are arranged."Josiah Messer, who has signed the front endpapers at an early date (and who is perhaps responsible for the extensive manuscript caption on the extra-illustration of the Cinchona) was an 18th century London chemist and apothecary.Cleveland Collections 386; Dunthorne 42; Great Flower Books (1990), p. 50; Henrey 452; Hunt 510; Lisney 175 and 180; Nissen BBI 168; Pritzel 811; Stafleu-Cowan TL2 545.
      [Bookseller: Donald Heald Rare Books ]
Last Found On: 2018-01-09           Check availability:      ABAA    

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