BLACKWELL, Elizabeth (d. 1758). A Curious Herbal, containing five hundred cuts of the most useful plants. from drawings taken from life . To which is added a short description of ye plants and their common use in physick. London: C. Nourse, 1782.

$ 90,000.00

2 volumes, folio (18 2/8 x 11 2/8 inches). Engraved throughout: two engraved title-pages (that to volume two with discreetly repaired tears), two dedicatory leaves, one leaf commendation from the Royal College of Physicians, one leaf of 'Publick Recommendation', two leaves of 'English index', 2 leaves 'Catalogus Plantarum.', 125 leaves of explanatory text and 500 EXCEPTIONALLY FINE hand-coloured plates (one or two margins of a few plates very lightly browned). Contemporary diced russia gilt, covers with outer border of 'greek-key' roll, Botfield arms in the centre, early-19th century spine in seven compartments delineated by fillets and a double-helix roll tool, lettered in the second compartment, numbered in the fourth (expertly rebacked and cornered in the early 19th century, upper inner hinges reinforced, lower inner hinge cracked, spines slightly faded).

Provenance: Supra libros of Beriah Botfield (1807-1863) bibliographer, book-collector and industrialist, on each front cover; engraved armorial bookplate of Arthur Cuthbert on the front paste-down of each volume.

First edition, Henrey's sixth issue and AN EXCEPTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE TALL COPY. Both titles are dated 1782, but according to Lisney 'the remaining leaves, including the plates, have been printed from the blocks used' for the first issue of 1737. Henrey says: "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". From the distinguished library of Beriah Botlfield who wrote a number of books about early printed books and manuscripts, including "Notes on Cathedral Libraries of England" (1849), "Catalogues of the Library of Durham Cathedral" (1840, for the Surtees Society), and edited a number of books for the Roxburghe Club and other celebrated bibliographic societies. He set up a private printing press at Norton Hall and printed some of his own works in limited editions. He was also a notable book collector, and his collection, mostly of early printed and colour plate books, were bequeathed on his death to the Thynne family of Bath, where they remained at Longleat, the Thynne family home, until they were sold in a series of sales in 1979 and 1994. 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. Henrey 455; Lisney 175 & 180.