(London: Printed for G[iles]. Widdowes at the Green-Dragon in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1672). 145 x 90 mm. (5 3/4 x 3 1/2"). 3 p.l. (first blank), 114 pp.,  leaves (pp. 109-114 and final two leaves [ads and printer's mark] supplied in facsimile). FIRST EDITION.
Modern calf, the original cover of contemporary sheep laid down on front board, raised bands. With 11 woodcuts in the text, five of these full-page, and one woodcut plate, all depicting New England flora; printer's device on final (facsimile) leaf. Front flyleaf with early owner inscriptions of William Maning, William Millward (dated 1688), and Thomas Millward (dated 1720), and with early notes on days in the month of July (perhaps a timekeeping log?). Church 618; Howes J-255; Hunt 322; Sabin 36674; Vail, "Frontier" 160; Wing J-1093. A couple of trivial creases to sheepskin panel, first 14 leaves with short worm trail to head edge, touching headline, intermittent minor (never significant) stains consistent with frequent use, but still a very good, surprisingly fresh copy internally, in a new, sympathetic binding.
This is an affordable copy of the much sought-after first edition of the earliest natural history of New England, with descriptions of native flora and fauna, illustrations of plants unfamiliar to Europeans, and details on the medicinal uses of various animals, vegetables, and minerals. Josselyn (ca. 1608-1700?) visited Boston in 1663 and from there set out to explore the surrounding region, devoting the next eight years to discovering and recording the birds, beasts, reptiles, fishes, plants, stones, and metals found there. In the text, after physical descriptions of the various animals, Josselyn notes any ailments that may be treated with their fat, skins, horns, or other parts. Goose fat is recommended for bloody flux, bear grease for aches and pains ("the Indians anoint themselves therewith from top to toe" to protect against the cold), and dogfish for toothache. Plants are divided into those that are also common in England, those "proper" to New England, native New England plants that have no name in English, plants brought to the New World by settlers, and English herbs that thrive or don't thrive in the colony. Most of the text is given to the discussion of useful plants, with an emphasis on their remedial properties, and the illustrations depict those previously unknown in the British Isles. Josselyn concludes his discussion with a description of the appearance and character of Native American women, including a poem (cringeworthy from the modern perspective) favorably comparing the charms of dark-skinned women to those of white women. The last section (here in facsimile) is a chronology of the history of New England. Complete copies of our first edition in desirable condition are uncommonly seen and bring very substantial sums in the marketplace. We purchased the present copy because it is an affordable example of an important early book on America, and we offer it with the same thought in mind. (ST15913)