[L'ECLUSE, Charles de (1526-1609)]. CLUSIUS, Carolus. Rariorum Plantarum Historia. Antwerp: J. Moretus, 1601.

$ 9,000.00

Folio (13 4/8 x 8 4/8 inches). 2 letterpress sectional title-pages (without letterpress general title-page). Engraved general title-page (remargined), numerous woodcut illustrations in text, tail-pieces and initials. 18th-century mottled calf, the spine in seven compartments with six raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in one, the others decorated with fine gilt tools (lower corner of front cover with early repair, extremities a bit scuffed, but ATTRACTIVE).

Provenance: with the contemporary ownership inscription of "Pietre" on the title-page; an early inscription obscured at the margin at the head of the title-page.

First collected edition, with preliminary leaves closely conforming to the Arents copy which is also lacking the letterpress title-page: Engraved title, *2-3, [*4 -6], without dedication leaf and with the original "Privilegium" [a cancel in the Hunt copy], and without the "Altera Appendix". The first volume of the collected works of Clusius, not completed until 1605 with the publication of the "Exoticoru". With the first edition of the "Fungorum historia", the first published monograph on fungi; it "makes good the claim that de l'Ecluse should be honoured as the founder of mycology" (Arber). Nissen notes that the manuscript containing the original drawings of this section was mislaid in the Plantin printing house before the printing of this volume. When they were eventually recovered Fr. van Sterbeeck used them for his "Theatrum fungorum" (1675), often mistakenly referred to as the first book on fungi. "Again and again, in attempting to ascertain the correct application of names given by Linnaeus, the inquirer is lead back to L'Ecluse's work, which can be described as the starting point of our modern knowledge for many genera. His description and the associated illustrations thus help to typify the species of later authors. Moreover his enthusiastic cultivation of foreign plants, particularly those from Turkey and the Levant, prepared the way for the splendid gardens of seventeenth century France, Germany, Austrai, Flanders and Holland; and his introduction of the potato to the Low Countries rendered no less a service to their food. His death in 1609 is commemorated in the felicitous epitaph: When Clusius knew each plant Earth's bosom yields, He went a-simpling in the Elysian fields" (Blunt and Stearn The Art of Botanical Illustration p.82). Hunt 180; Nissen BBI 372; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 1149; Wellcome I 1511.