ACOSTA, CRISTOVAL DE [and GARCIA DA ORTA]. Tractado de las drogas, y medicinas de las Indias Orientales. Burgos: Martin de Victoria, 1578.
4to, 184 x 125 mm., later vellum over pasteboards, red mottled edges, fore-edges of title-leaf strengthened, filling two wormholes through woodcut border, foxing, a few leaves browned; morocco-backed slipcase with matching removable backstrip.
FIRST EDITION, architectural woodcut title border incorporating arms of the city of Burgos, woodcut portrait of Acosta, 8-line ornamental woodcut initials, 45 full-page woodcuts of plants and 2 cuts of elephants.
An important work on the medicinal plants of India, influential for its description of non-European flora, which greatly influenced the development of later 16th-century taxonomy. Acosta's work is an illustrated adaption of the physician Garcia da Orta's unillustrated Coloquios dos Simples e Drogas he Cousas Medicinais da India, published in Goa in 1563. Da Orta had spent many years in Goa, where he conducted a pioneering methodical study of local flora, his particular interest being plants of potential medicinal use. Acosta, a Jesuit and fellow physician, met da Orta during his travels through India. Though not the first European edition of da Orta's work, Acosta's version of the Coloquios is considered the most useful, being enriched with his own observations and with illustrations that were apparently drawn from nature. The plants depicted include numerous tropical spices and fruits, at least one of which, the pineapple, was later introduced to the East Indies.
Alden and Landis 587/19; Blunt and Raphael, pp. 145-48; Garrison & Morton 1819; Hunt I, 130; Pritzel 13; Sabin 113; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 23.
Provenance: Salvá, bookplate -- unidentified bookplate with monogram ERE -- Georg Arents; New York Public Library Arents collection, bookplate and label (sale, Sotheby's London, 24 May 1982) -- Robert de Belder.