Senate House Library treasures volume: featuring Greek flora

Historic Collections at Senate House Library

When John Sibthorp, Professor of Botany at Oxford, went to Greece in 1786 (and again 1794-5) his object was twofold: to study the flora of Greece, and to try to identify definitely all the seven hundred plants described in Dioscorides’s first-century Materia Medica, the primary work on herbal medicine from the ancient world. Only twenty-five copies of the first edition of Sibthorp’s posthumous Flora Graeca were ever printed; and so expensive was the sumptuous ten-volume folio work with its 966 coloured plates, one opposite each page of text, that even John Lindley, Assistant Secretary of Horticultural Society and the book’s final editor, could not afford a copy, but had to make do with the letterpress of those parts of the text with which he had been involved. The book cemented the reputation of its Austrian botanical illustrator Ferdinand Bauer, with Joseph Hooker calling Flora Graeca “the greatest botanical work…

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This is the journal of Jonathan Kearns Rare Books & Curiosities, and all who sail in her. Information, updates, rantings, musings and pretty pictures related (loosely I would imagine) to the world of rare and antiquarian books will be brought to you by a number of different personalities, some of whom cohabit in the same person's head. We welcome queries, comments and contributions of virtually any description, and in return we will attempt to rein in our multitudinous personality disorders and deliver wonders and joys beyond compare. At least that's the plan. View all posts by bibliodeviant

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