BLACKWELL, Elizabeth (c. 1700-1758). A Curious Herbal, containing Five Hundred Cuts, of the most useful plants, which are now used in the Practice of Physick. London: John Nourse, 1739.

$ 52,000.00

2 volumes. Folio (14 4/8 x 9 inches). Engraved title-pages, vignette dedication leaves and indexes. 500 fine hand-colored engraved plates (some inoffensive spotting). Contemporary speckled panelled calf (rebacked to style, a bit rubbed, late 19th-century endpapers).

Provenance: with the ownership inscriptions of Ella Fuller Maittand dated 1892 on the verso of the front free endpapers; with Charles Traylen, 1982, $6745

Second edition. Begun in 1735 as an attempt to unify medical and botanical illustrated texts on useful plants and, in the hope of having her husband released from debtor's prison, Elizabeth Blackwell rented a house opposite the Chelsea Physic Garden, at 4, Swan Walk, at the suggestion of Isaac Reed, in order to draw and engrave the plants there. Her husband helped by supplying the common names of the plants in various languages. After finishing the drawings Elizabeth engraved them on copper herself, and coloured the 500 prints individually by hand. Initially published in weekly parts, the first volume, which contained commendations from the Royal College of Physicians, was completed in 1737, the second in 1738 or early 1739. The work was an enormous success, her husband went to Sweden where he was employed as an agricultural expert (Linnaeus visited him in 1746), but he unfortunately became involved with a political intrigue and was execute in 1747. Great Flower Books, p.75; Henrey 453; Lisney 175 & 180; Nissen BBI 168; Pritzel 811; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 545.