HILL, John (ca 1716-1775). The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Trees, Natives of Britain, Cultivated for Use, or Raised for Beauty. London: for T. Osborne and J. Shipton, J. Hodges, J. Newberry, B. Collins, S. Crowder and H. Woodgate, 1756 [1757-8].
2o (485 x 295 mm). Hand-colored engraved frontispiece by H. Roberts after S. Wale, title with engraved vignette, dedication to the Earl of Northumberland headed by engraved arms, 74 (of 75, plate 56 supplied in watercolor) hand-colored engraved plates by Boyce, Darly & Edwards, R. Benning, H. Roberts and others after Darly & Edwards and J. Burgess, woodcut tail-pieces. (Some offsetting from frontispiece onto title-page.) Modern half morocco, uncut. Provenance: E.P. Medows (signature on front pastedown); C.E. Salmon (signature dated "1915" on front pastedown).
A LARGE-PAPER COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, with highly decorative hand-colored plates illustrating over 1,500 plant specimens. Divided into 35 classes and arranged according to an individual system, with mixed genera on each plate, Hill's work is "nomenclaturally important because he reinstated pre-Linnaean generic names which Linnaeus had suppressed" (Blunt and Stearn). Originally issued in fascicles, the first complete work was issued both as a "royal folio," as here, and in "demy folio" form. A colorful figure of the 18th-century, Hill was an apothecary, horticulturalist, botanist, playwright and journalist. Although possessed of a difficult disposition, Hill displayed a great scientific ability and was an important contributor to botanical literature. The fine allegorical frontispiece depicting the Genius of Health is from a design by Samuel Wale, who "did much designing for booksellers of his day and was one of the most prolific English illustrators of the eighteenth century" (Henrey). Blunt and Stearn The Art of Botanical Illustration, pp.170-171; Henrey 799, pp.92-95; Hunt 557; Nissen BBI 881; Pritzel 4063; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 2769.