Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…. John PARKINSON.
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…

Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants…
Theatrum Botanicum, The Theater of Plants. Or An Universall and Compleat Herball…

London: Thomas Cotes, 1640.

Folio, with elaborately engraved title-page and about 2700 woodcut illustrations in the text; in an attractive later binding of smooth polished calf.

The largest early English herbal, with 2700 original woodblock illustrations

An especially good copy of this famous and beautiful English herbal, 'one of the two main pillars of botany in England till the time of Ray' (James Edward Smith). The largest herbal in English, this was also the last great medicinally-based plant study, by an author who thought of himself as first and foremost an apothecary.

An especially good copy of this famous and beautiful English herbal, 'one of the two main pillars of botany in England till the time of Ray' (James Edward Smith). The largest herbal in English, this was also the last great medicinally-based plant study, by an author who thought of himself as first and foremost an apothecary.

Early botanical works were frequently illustrated with original woodcuts, and this book is a marvellous example of the impressive beauty that the relatively naïve method of woodcut illustration conveys in a botanical work, with a flower portrayed in line in singular contrast to the accompanying botanical description: altogether two thousand seven hundred woodblocks were individually cut for this massive herbal, which describes more than four thousand plants, most of them with medicinal properties.

Parkinson had given notice of his intention to compile an herbal in his Paradisus terrestris of 1629, but was delayed by the publication of the second Johnson edition of Gerarde's Herball, in 1636. This delay meant that Parkinson's work had time to grow much larger than originally planned, and on publication it included about one thousand more plants than Gerarde could, and describes many species not previously recorded.

Natural history collecting in exotic lands was actively pursued from the earliest period of botanical study, and the earliest exploring ships were fitted out with special compartments for the transportation of animals and plants. Parkinson noted in his Paradisi in sole of 1629 that he had obtained a specimen of the "Scilla alba" in the manner of the day - which meant gathering with other collectors at the quay to meet the returning ships, and to purchase rare specimens directly from the sailors.

John Parkinson (1567-1650), a London pharmacist, received the title of Royal Apothecary from James I. Later, Charles I appointed him as his chief botanist ("Botanicus Regius Primarius"). Parkinson had a private garden in Long Acre 'well stored with rarities' (Theatrum, p. 609). Work on his herbal was helped by notes and unpublished material by the French botanist Matthias de l'Obel who had lived in north London in the last years of his life.

Provenance: With the armorial bookplate of "Brodie of Brodie" (chief of the clan Brodie, Brodie Castle,. N.E. Scotland)

Henrey, 286; Hunt, 235; Nissen, 1490; Norman, 1643; STC, 19302.

Price (AUD): $13,250.00  other currencies Ref: #3409278

Condition Report