PARKINSON, John (1567-1650). Theatrum botanicum, the Theater of Plantes. Or, an Herball of a large extent. London: Thomas Cotes, 1640.
2o (345 x 225 mm). Additional engraved title by William Marshall (Johnson 79). Errata leaf at end. 2717 quarter-page woodcuts in the text, woodcut initials, factotums, and head-and tail-piece ornaments. (Engraved title frayed and a bit darkened, minor soiling at bottom of letterpress title, occasional small marginal tears, one or two entering text, small rusthole to fol. K3, 5N4 torn along gutter, fraying to edges of sheets 5Z1.5 and 6T3.4, some marginal dampstaining to lower fore-corners.) Contemporary calf, covers blind-panelled (rebacked, corners restored, extremities rubbed). Provenance: ?Thomas Brice (18th-century signature on title); Rev. W. T. Bree (20th-c. bookplate); Mittie Arnold (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. "One of the two pillars of botany in England till the time of Ray" (Henrey, p. 79), the Theatrum botanicum "could perhaps be called the last British herbal, as it still reprints much mediaeval lore" (Plesch). Eclipsed during the author's lifetime by Johnson's edition of Gerard's herbal and by Parkinson's own Paradisus Terrestris (see preceding lot), the vast Theatrum was unjustly dismissed after his death as an imitation of Lobel. However, although traditional in its arrangement and haphazard classification scheme, the encylopaedic work was not simply derivative. Of the 4,000 native English plants described by Parkinson, only 1,000 had appeared in Gerard's herbal. 28 plants are recorded here for the first time, including the strawberry tree, the lady's slipper orchid, and the Welsh-poppy. Henrey 286; Hunt 235; Nissen BBI 1490; Pritzel 6934; STC 19302.