GREW, Nehemiah

GREW, Nehemiah. The Anatomy of Plants with an Idea of Philosophical history of Plants. And Several Other Lectures, Read Before the Royal Society

London, W.Rawlins, 1682.

£10000

FIRST EDITION. Folio. 83 fine engraved plates, including 3 folding and two double-page and mounted on guards, woodcut headpieces and initials (numerous 7- and 9-line tall). Contemporary calf, rebacked, gilt spine in 7 compartments with raised bands, decorative panels on covers with external angular fleurons, single-fillet roll gilt along cover edges. Text-block Fore-edge marbled. Bookplate of “Hugh Cecil Earl of Lonsdale” on left pastedown. A fine copy.

Rare LARGE PAPER-ISSUE of the first complete edition of “Grew’s chief work which gained him the reputation of being one of the most distinguished scientists of the 17th century” (Hunt). “THE BIRTH OF MICROSCOPIC ANATOMY OF PLANTS” (Grolier Science). “This key work collected together all the botanical research that Grew had presented to the Royal Society during the previous decade. Grew was a conscious pioneer in a hitherto neglected area: as he put it in dedicating his “Comparative Anatomy of Trunks” to Charles II in 1675, ‘I may, without vanity, say thus much, That it was my fortune, to be the first that ever gave a Map of the Country’ (sig. A2v). It is on his findings in this area that his reputation as a scientist is chiefly based. His work was primarily marked by his brilliant observation and description of plants and their component parts; having begun by making observations using only the naked eye, Grew supplemented these with the use of a microscope under the tutelage of his colleague Hooke. His presentations to the society began in 1672-4 with the roots, branches, and trunks of plants, proceeding thereafter to their leaves, flowers, fruit, and seeds. In each area he was innovative, studying for the first time many features of plants that have since been taken for granted, such as their cell-like structure and the growth rings in wood, and deploying techniques which have since become commonplace, such as the use of transverse, radial, and tangential longitudinal sections to analyse the structure of stems and roots. He was also an innovator in the terminology he used to describe plants, first using such terms as ‘radicle’ or ‘parenchyma’, a word adapted from its use in animal anatomy by Francis Glisson” (DNB). Along with Marcello Malpighi, Grew is considered the founder of plant anatomy.

Grolier Science 43b; Henrey 162; Hunt 362; Nissen BBI 758; NLM/Krivatsy 4986; Norman 946; Pritzel 3557; Wellcome III, p.164.