(Dublin: Printed by A. Rhames, printer to the Dublin Society, 1732). 200 x 105 mm. (7 7/8 x 4 1/2"). 14 pp.,  leaf (ads). FIRST EDITION.
Recent retrospective panelled calf, raised bands, spine panels with gilt ornament, red morocco label. With frontispiece engraving of the saffron flower (crocus), its bud, and the bulb. Henrey II, 206; Hunt 488; ESTC T86873. Tiny wormhole to tail margins, a couple of small, faint spots to fore edge, but AN EXTREMELY FINE COPY, the text entirely clean, fresh, and especially bright, and in a new, sympathetic binding.
This rare little account promoting the cultivation of the saffron crocus in England and Ireland seems to be the first separately published work in English entirely devoted to saffron. It is a condensed version of a paper Dr. James Douglas published in "Philosophical Transactions" in 1728, with added notes at the end by an Irish writer who claims that saffron grown in Ireland "is superior in every quality to that grown in other countries." Scottish physician James Douglas (1675-1742) studied at the University of Edinburgh and received his medical degree at Rheims before establishing an obstetrics practice in London, where his patients included Queen Caroline. In addition to writings on anatomy and midwifery that are still referenced today, Douglas, a keen gardener, also delved into botany, penning works on the Guernsey lily, the coffee plant, and ipecacuanha, the plant from which medicinal ipecac derives. The present work is based on his studies of saffron farming in the town of Saffron Walden in Essex, a major producer of the spice in the Middle Ages, when it was widely used in medicines to combat the plague. Hunt notes that works such as ours that promoted industries or crops were common in the 17th and 18th centuries. Of course, they were also small, ephemeral, and apt to be lost or discarded over time. The present title is rare in the marketplace; we could trace just two copies recorded at auction by ABPC and RBH--the Crahan copy, which sold twice in the mid-1980s, and a copy that sold for the equivalent of $3,895 at Bloomsbury in 2011. (ST15736h)