PARKINSON, JOHN. Theatrum Botanicum: The Theater of Plants. Or, an herball of a large extent: Containing therin a more ample and exact History and declaration of the Physicall Herbs and Plants that are in other Authours, encreased by the accesse of many hundreds of new, rare, and strange Plants from all the parts of the world. London: Thomas Cotes, 1640.
Folio, 356 x 227 mm., CONTEMPORARY FRENCH MOTTLED CALF BOUND FOR JOHN EVELYN, sides panelled in gilt, Evelyn's arms blocked in gilt at center, his gilt monogram at corners of inner panel and repeated in compartments of spine, morocco lettering-piece, g.e., outer joints cracked, some discreet restoration to joints and extremities, a few tiny rust marks, occasional very slight discoloration.
FIRST EDITION, additional engraved title by William Marshall (Johnson 79), errata leaf at end, 2716 quarter-page woodcuts in the text, woodcut initials, factotums, and head- and tail-piece ornaments.
THE EVELYN copy of this classic British herbal, "one of the two main pillars of botany in England till the time of Ray" (Henrey, p. 79, quoting the 19th-century botanist Sir James Edward Smith). Parkinson's vast survey of the botanical world was eclipsed during his lifetime by Johnson's edition of Gerard's herbal and by his own popular treatise on horticulture, Paradisus terrestris, and was dismissed after his death as a plagiary of Lobel. In fact Parkinson's magnum opus was largely an original work: although like all botanical writers of the period he did borrow from contemporary and earlier herbalists, and availed himself of information in an unpublished manuscript of Lobel which he had purchased after the latter's death, Parkinson's work was not simply derivative. The 4,000 plants that he described exceeded by 1,000 the subjects of Gerard's Herbal, and include the names of 28 British species not previously recorded, among them the strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) of western Ireland, and the lady's slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) of Lancashire. "The descriptions in many instances are new, and great care was exercised to secure accuracy in indicating localities... His arrangement, founded sometimes on medicinal qualities, sometimes on habitat, sometimes on apparent botanical differences, shows how little progress was made in classification by the herbalists" of this period (Hunt, quoting J. R. Green, History of Botany in the United Kingdom, 1914).
Henrey 286; Hunt 235; Nissen BBI 1490; STC 19302.
Provenance: JOHN EVELYN, inscription on front flyleaf, "Catalogo J. Evelynii inscriptus. Meliora retinete. 1650", pressmark at foot of engraved title, modern bookplate (sale, Christie's London, 15 March 1978, lot 1135) -- Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 28 April 1987, lot 267).