HILL, John (1716/17-1775). 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 and others, 1756 [1757-8].
2° (462 x 270mm). Hand-coloured engraved frontispiece by H. Roberts after S. Wale, title with engraved vignette, dedication to the Earl of Northumberland headed by engraved arms, 75 hand-coloured engraved plates by Boyce, Darly & Edwards, R. Benning, H. Roberts and others after Darly & Edwards and J. Burgess, plate VII of slightly smaller paper size, woodcut tailpieces. (Occasional light browning mainly affecting text leaves, occasional light marginal soiling or spotting affecting a few plates only.) Later diced russia gilt (some light scuffing to extremities, short split to spine, some wear at head with loss).
A LARGE-PAPER COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, with highly decorative coloured plates comprising over 1,500 plant illustrations. Divided into 35 classes and arranged according to an individual system, with mixed genera on each plate, Hill's work is 'nomenclaturally important' for reinstating 'pre-Linnaean generic names which Linnaeus had supressed' (Blunt). Originally issued in fascicles, the first complete work was issued both as a royal folio, as here, and in demy folio form. A colourful figure of the 18th century, Hill was an apothecary, horticulturalist, botanist, playwright and journalist. Although 'vain and quarrelsome' he displayed a great scientific ability (Stern) and was an important and prolific contributor to botanical literature. The dedicatee, Hugh Smithson (later Percy), Earl of Northumberland (1715-1786), became Knight of the Garter in 1756. Henrey 799; Hunt 557; Nissen BBI 881; Pritzel 4063; Stafleu and Cowan 2769.