London: M. Clark for H. Faithorne, 1686-1688-, 1704.
Three volumes, folio; a handsome set in contemporary calf, banded spine gilt with double red morocco labels.
With a description of Dampier's west Australian plants
A particularly handsome set: first edition, first issue, complete with the rare third volume published eighteen years after the main work in a single issue limited to only 200 copies, and notably including contemporary descriptions of some of the plants collected by Dampier on the northwest coast of Australia.
A particularly handsome set: first edition, first issue, complete with the rare third volume published eighteen years after the main work in a single issue limited to only 200 copies, and notably including contemporary descriptions of some of the plants collected by Dampier on the northwest coast of Australia.John Ray was considered the "father of British botany" and this was his greatest work, the most important botanical text of the seventeenth century, and the foundation of modern botany. By the time he wrote the first volume Ray had gained an 'encyclopaedic knowledge of the literature of botany and horticulture, from ancient times to the work of his contemporaries, including the latest acquisitions from microscopy. His clear mind and balanced judgement enabled him to select the well-attested facts from this mass of material and to present them in a rational perspective…' (Morton, History of Botanical Science).This work has specific importance for Australia. In 1699 Dampier, the first Englishman to land on the Australian continent, gathered together specimens of Australia's exotic flora. This collection of plants came from various places on the West Australian coast including Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay, near present-day Karratha, and East Lewis Island in the Dampier Archipelago south of Broome. Through his friendship with Thomas Woodward, Ray had on loan a large selection of Dampier's precious plant collection meaning that he was able, in the third volume of this work, to include a description of plants from Dampier's precious herbarium that had survived shipwreck on the navigator's return journey to England.In total, Ray described eighteen Dampier plants, nine from Australia, five from Brazil, one from Timor, two from New Guinea and one of an unknown locality. In turn, in Dampier's account of his voyage published in 1703, a translation of Ray's descriptions forms the basis of his Account of Several Plants. John Ray's method of classification is called a polynomial system, a verbal description of the plant. At this time there was no set format for zoological or botanical descriptions, but if this format is far from ideal, it was nevertheless a milestone for Australian botany.This is the preferred first issue of the book, with the first state of the title pages to volumes one and two dated 1686 and 1688 respectively. A second issue appeared seven years later in 1693, while the important third volume containing Australian species was issued only once, in 1704.
Provenance: From the famous scientific library of the American collector Haskell F. Norman (bookplate in first volume).
Dibner, 24; Henrey, 313; Horblit, 87; Hunt, I, XXX; Keynes, 48, 49, 51; Krivatsy/NLM, 9409 (first two volumes only); Norman Catalogue, 1788 and 1789; Plesch, 622; Pritzel, 7436; Wellcome II, IV, 479; Wing, R394, R-395A.
Price (AUD): $26,500.00 other currencies Ref: #4005786