The first true textbook of botany
De plantis libri XVI.
Florence: Giorgio Marescotti, 1583.
1st Edition. Hardcover. 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Very Good. Item #001852
4to (220 x 154 mm). , 621,  pp. Woodcut printer's device on title and at end, woodcut initials, some historiated. Variant title page with "Duce" in 9th line. Contemporary vellum (old remboitage binding), spine hand-lettered, faded blue edges. A few leaves with faint stains or mostly marginal spotting, fore edge with small ink stain affecting a few leaves to the end, title-page with small ink corrosion hole inside signature. Provenance: Savgiano(?) (early signature in ink on title); "B.M." (manuscript note on title); "M no. 2J" (early note in ink on title); Warren H. Corning, Library of the Holden Arboretum (bookplate to front pastedown). Very good copy, collated complete. ----
Dibner 20; PMM 97; Sparrow 34; Norman 432; Pritzel 1640; Adams C-20; BM/STC Italian p. 134; Cleveland Collections 122, Holden Arboretum Copy 2 (this copy). - THE VERY RARE FIRST EDITION OF "THE FIRST TRUE TEXTBOOK OF BOTANY" (DSB). The first book of this text is of outstanding historical importance. Here, in thirty pages of admirably clear Latin, Cesalpino presented the principles of botany, grouping a wealth of careful observations under broad categories, on the model of Aristotle and Theophrastus. "Caesalpinus's philosophy is Aristotelian: plants have a vegetable soul which is responsible for nutrition and for the reproduction of organisms. Nutrition was believed to come from the roots in the soil and to be carried up the stems to produce the fruit. Hence, the roots, stems and fruit are the main characteristics selected by Caesalpinus as the basis for his classification" (PMM).
Cesalpino was the first to elaborate a system of the plants based on a unified and coherent group of notions. By paying little attention to the medicinal uses of plants he raised botany to the level of an independent science. Our copy is an interesting example for an early re-used binding, recased in the 17th or 18th century, upside-down with the hand lettering of the former work still present at foot of the spine.
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