Two volumes of a famous monograph on willows, rarely found together

Hoffmann, Georg Franz. Historia salicum iconibus illustrata.

Leipzig, Siegfried Leberecht Crusius, vol. 1: 1785-1787, vol. 2: 1791.

Folio. 2 volumes. 66, (4), 67-78; 12 pp. With 24 engraved plates in vol. 1 (numbered 1-24) and 6 engraved plates in vol. 2 (numbered 25-29, 31: all published), all signed by I. Nuszbiegel after originals by the author, except plate 31, which is signed by Johann Stephan Capieux. Blue sprinkled paper over boards (vol. 1) and limp grey paper wrappers, stab-sewn through the wrappers (vol. 2).


Both volumes of the first and only edition of Hoffmann's monograph on willows, published in instalments from 1785 to 1791, including the series of 30 engraved plates (numbered as 31) made to accompany them, showing willows, their branches, leaves and flowers. He describes different kinds of willows, their varieties, habitat and sizes. All descriptions refer to the plates, so that readers could use them together.

G. F. Hofmann was a German botanist and physician. He first served as professor of botany in Erlangen, then professor of botany and director of the botanical garden in Göttingen. Finally he went to Moscow, where he continued his botanical studies, taking charge of the Imperial Academy of Science's botanical garden and herbarium.

The two volumes of the "Historia salicum iconibus illustrata", including the engravings, have a turbulent publication history. Volume 1, in 4 instalments, was actually issued in two parts: instalments 1 and 2 (pp. 1-48), together with plates 1-5 and 6-10 respectively, appeared between February and June 1785. Instalments 3 and 4 (pp. 49-78), together with plates 11-16 and 17-24 respectively, probably in September or October 1786, the 4th instalment also including the title-page for the entire vol. I. Volume 2 appeared nearly four years later, between January and June 1791, together with plates 25-29 and 31. Plate 30 is never mentioned in the text or bibliographies, so it was apparently never published or was misnumbered “31”.

With manuscript owner's inscriptions on the title-page of instalment 1 and on the title-page of vol. 1. With the title-page to vol. 1 misbound between instalments 3 and 4. Binding of vol. 1 slightly worn, corners bumped. Paper wrappers of vol. 2 slightly frayed at the corners. With a small professional restoration to the foot of the spine. With some minor stains in each volume, but still in good condition. Both volumes, rarely found together, of a remarkable monograph on willows, with all the plates.

Hunt II, 678. Johnston 565. Nissen BBI 893. Pritzel 4127. Stafleu & Cowan II, 2879.

Stock Code: BN#52160 Tag: