Horti Elthamensis plantarum rariorum icones et nomina.
Folio. 2 vols. in one. (12) pp. With 325 engraved plates, numbered 1-147, (1), 148-324. 4 plates misbound: 6/7 and 273/274. Contemporary boards.
Second expanded edition of "one of the most important of pre-Linnaean works" (Hunt): Dillen's description of plants in the great botanical garden in Eltham (London) of James Sherard, "one of the most richly stocked gardens in the world".
To this second edition the Linnaean binomal names are added on the preliminary leaves and in the present copy a contemporary hand has written these names in ink under each of the plates. The first edition, printed in London 1732 is extremely rare, only 145 copies of the plates and 500 of the original text were printed. The present second Leiden edition is praised for its very fine plates of succulents.
Johann Jakob Dillen (Dillenius) (1684-1749), was one of the important botanists of his time. He was born in Darmstadt and settled in England in 1721. James Sherard (1666-1738) was a weatlhy botanist and apothecary, whose gardens at Eltham, south of London, were famous for their exotic and rare plants from the Cape, Virginia, Mexico, the West Indies and Argentina. Sherard had visited other continental gardens and wanted to have his catalogued according to the highest scientific standard. He was able to persuade Dillen to take up this task. Many of the plants in Sherard's garden were new to science and were never illustrated before. Dillen immortalized the gardens with 325 excellent plates that illustrate 417 plants, drawn and engraved by himself. He complains in one of his letters about the high costs for meeting the demands of James Sherard without receiving any financial support from his side. However, when William Sherard died in 1728 he left a fund to the Oxford University for a professorship of botany, of which Dillen was the first holder.
"Dillen's work was highly respected by Linnaeus ... His Hortus Elthamensis (first edition 1732) may have served as a prototype for the Hortus Cliffortianus(1737)" (Stafleu, Linnaeus). The plates by Dillen were sufficiently accurate to be of considerable service to Linnaeus. In a gesture of appreciation Linnaeus named a genus of trees Dillenia. Dillen offered Linneaus his position as professor of botany at the University of Oxford, but he declined.
Wholly untrimmed with very large margins. Very many handwritten notes at the bottom of the pages, a small brown stain at the bottom of the page. Slightly rubbed and soiled but completely intact and firm. Overall in good condition.
Dunthorne 94. Hunt 637. Nissen, BBI 492. Pritzel 2285. Stafleu, Linnaeus, p. 199. Stafleu-Cowan 1471.