"AMONG THE FIRST OF THE FLOWER BOOKS": 1629 FIRST EDITION OF PARKINSON'S PARADISI, AMONG THE EARLIEST ENGLISH BOOKS ON GARDENING, WITH 110 BEAUTIFUL FULL-PAGE WOODCUTS
(GARDENING) PARKINSON, John. Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris. Or, a Garden of all sorts of Pleasant Flowers… With a Kitchen garden of all manner of herbes, rootes, & fruites, for meate or sause… and An Orchard of all sorte of fruitbearing Trees and shrubbes… (London: Printed by Humfrey Lownes and Robert Yovng), 1629. Folio (8-1/2 by 13 inches), contemporary full dark brown calf rebacked in the early 20th century, raised bands, red morocco spine label, later endpapers.
First edition of "one of the most beloved of all early English books on gardening" (Hunt), sumptuously illustrated with delightful woodcut allegorical title page depicting the Garden of Eden and 110 beautiful full-page woodcut representations of flowers, herbs and fruit varieties by Switzer, mostly after Clusius and Lobel, and portrait of Parkinson.
Parkinson's "mighty tome," entitled with a pun on his name ("Park-in-sun's Park on Earth"), "is among the first of the florilegiums, or flower-books" (de Bray, 36). Painstakingly compiled over ten years, this vast collection contains descriptions of nearly 1000 plants, noting Latin and common names and useful medicinal and culinary properties of many, "with many of the entries giving evidence of cross-breeding and careful selection" (ODNB). Parkinson served as Apothecary to James I and later "Botanicus Regius Primarius" to Charles I. "His legacy to the world was his still-popular Paradisus" (Blunt & Raphael, 171). "His first and best-loved book" (ODNB).
"One of the most beloved of all early English books on gardening, about which so much has been written that little need be said here. Hill's Proffitable Arte of Gardening, 1568, was probably the earliest of its predecessors, but Hill's book was of course not nearly so complete or elaborate… It was practical from the point of view of the gardener, and described nearly 1000 plants, mostly exotics. Though it makes little appeal to the scientific botanist, it does give a very complete picture of the English garden at the beginning of the 17th century, and in such a delightful, homely literary style that gardeners cherish it even to the present day" (Hunt). Hunt 215. Nissen 1489. STC 19300. Lowndes, 1780. CBEL I, 391. Armorial bookplate of botanist Henry Elliott Fox (1841-1926), with a hand-written note in ink laid in at page 123. A few early marginal annotations, including one referring to the potatoes of Virginia. Newspaper clipping on Parkinson's work dated 1904 tipped to rear pastedown.
Expert restoration to margins of title page, 12 early leaves with minor corner repairs, a few other corners neatly repaired, occasional light soiling. Calf corners gently rounded, mild rubbing to joints, binding sound. An exceptional copy of this scarce and sought-after landmark.