Universal Herbal

Thomas GREEN

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GREEN, Thomas. The Universal Herbal; or, Botanical, Medical, and Agricultural Dictionary. Liverpool: Henry Fisher (Caxton Press, London), 1816-20. Two volumes. Thick quarto, late 19th-century maroon cloth gilt.

First edition of this “account of all the known plants in the world,” with engraved frontispieces and title page, and 106 rich botanical plates (most of which are hand-colored), many by Merian and Ehret.

Describing the various uses to which plants can be put, “whether as food, as medicine, or in the arts and manufactures— adapted for the use of the farmer, the gardener, the husband-man, the botanist, the florist, and country house-keepers,” this veritable encyclopedia of herbal knowledge, enhanced by gardening and cooking advice, was compiled by Thomas Green “from the accumulated labors of the most eminent authors.” The 106 botanical plates, most hand-colored, were engraved by Dixon, Dobie, Swift and others, and “exhibit the various kinds of leaves, trunks, roots, armature of plants, and more especially those which present the parts of fructification.” Most of the plates depict two or four plants— many painted from life by such famous botanical artists as Maria Sybilla Merian and Georg Dionysius Ehret. Other plants were copied from earlier botanical works: the pineapple, melon, lemon and pepper, for example, came from Merian’s Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (1705) and the orchid, carnation, and papaya are from Philip Miller’s Gardener’s Dictionary (1755). The stipple-engraved allegorical frontispieces and title page were prepared after paintings by William Marshall Craig, fashionable miniaturist of the day. Sitwell, 97. Nissen 754. Armorial bookplate of W.R. Grace, probably William Russell Grace, mayor of New York City and the founder of the W.R. Grace steamship line.

Plate impressions crisp and colors true, text and some plates lightly foxed and embrowned, rubbing to spine ends of cloth binding.

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