COMMELIN, JAN and CASPAR. Horti medici Amstelodamensis rariorum plantarum...descriptio et icones. [Volume I with Latin translation, notes and observations by F. Ruysch and F. Kiggelaar]. Amsterdam: P. & J. Blaeu, 1697-1701.
2 vols., folio, 395 x 260 mm., eighteenth-century vellum over pasteboard, covers dust-soiled, some minor finger-soiling to plates, mostly in vol. I and at front of vol. II, tiny hole in plate 71 of vol. I, text leaf 5H torn and repaired in vol. II, two small splits at platemark at foot of engraved title of vol. I.
FIRST EDITION, FINELY HAND-COLORED. Parallel Latin and Dutch text, Latin half-titles, Latin title-pages printed in red and black followed by Dutch title-pages printed in black. Hand-colored woodcut vignettes, 2 engraved titles, each within a gold-painted frame, 5 full-page engraved coats-of arms (J. Commelin and J. Huydecoper in vol. I, F. de Vroede, J. Huydecoper and G. Pancras in vol. II), 223 ENGRAVED FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS OF PLANTS COLORED BY HAND (vol. II colored later and not showing the oxidation of the green pigment on versos of the plates which is apparent in vol. I), after Johann and Maria Moninckx and others on 222 leaves. The plates are numbered 1-112 in each volume, with Figs. 42, 43 and 44 in vol. I on one plate, and Fig. 4, nos. 1 and 2, on recto and verso of one leaf in vol. II. Stafleu & Cowan's earlier issue of **2v in vol. I without errata.
Jan Commelin (1629-1692) was the director of the Amsterdam Physic Gardens. "The first volume, on the plants of the East and West Indies, was [his] most important contribution to botanical knowledge; it was brought out posthumously by his nephew Caspar. The second volume was by Caspar Commelin and contained an enlargement on some of the notes in Jan's book, with further notes on African plants. The original paintings...were mainly the work of Johan and Maria Moninckx and may be seen in the Library of the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam" -- Hunt. The book is rare in colored form: Sir Joseph Banks's copy was sold at Christie's London, 22 July 1970 for £3100 (Dawson) and Beriah Botfield's copy, colored "certainly before 1809", sold at Christie's London, 30 March 1994 for £29,000.
Dunthorne 81; Great Flower Books, p. 54: Hunt 399; Nissen BBI 389; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 1187.
Provenance: Ferdinand Ernestus Count von Herberstein, ink ownership inscription dated 1721 on each title-page -- large bookplates removed. (2)