(Amsterdam: Henr. & Viduam Theod. Boom, 1683). 140 x 80 mm. (5 1/2 x 3 1/8"). 82, , 115 pp. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary calf, raised bands, spine gilt in compartments with central fleuron, gilt titling. Pritzel 1831, 782; not in Hunt, Nissen, or Plesch. See D. O. Wijnands, "The Botany of the Commelins" (1983). Corners lightly bumped and rubbed, trivial spots to leather, faint wear to joints, a couple of leaves at the end with pale marginal dampstains, other trivial imperfections, but still a fine copy, quite clean, fresh, and even bright inside, in an unsophisticated binding that is firm and pleasing.
This is the rare first edition of the first Dutch flora, composed by a man who came by his knowledge of botany from the marketplace rather than the academy. Jan Commelin or Commelijn (1629-92) was a purveyor of pharmaceutical plants to apothecaries and hospitals, whose success as a businessman led to a position in city government as director of the Amsterdam botanical garden, originally devoted to medicinal plants. His prosperity allowed him to collect exotic plants from the Indies and other Dutch colonies and cultivate them at his estate south of Haarlem. His catalogue of flora indigenous to Holland is arranged alphabetically by the botanical name of the plant in Latin, followed by the common name and information in Dutch about where it grows. Commelin asked the pharmacist and respected herbalist Lambert Bidloo (brother of famed anatomist and physician Govard Bidloo) to write the introduction here, which expounds on the lessons learned by Commelin as he explored remote byways of the country in search of previously unknown plants. Bidloo cautions against preferring exotic plants to the indigenous, and discusses the adaptability of plants to various environments. This is a scarce title: OCLC finds four copies in North American libraries; RBH and ABPC find no other copies at auction since 1974. (ST15914)
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PJP Catalog: RBMS21.019