Lot 80
  • 80

Gerard, John

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
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  • Gerard, John
  • The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes. London: John Norton, 1597
folio (327 x 225mm.), first edition, engraved title by William Rogers, engraved portrait of Gerard by Rogers, woodcut illustrations on almost every page, all with contemporary hand-colour, mid-seventeenth-century calf, rebacked in the late eighteenth century with spine gilt in compartments, the sixth panel with the gilt cypher “SX” of the Earl of Essex, rebacked again in the mid-twentieth-century with the earlier spine laid down, engraved title washed and carefully repaired in lower margin and corner, some paper flaws (e.g. p.601/602 with slight loss), rust-holes, tears and other minor defects


Thomasin Tunstall, manuscript annotations

Richard Whitaker (fl. 1619-48), bookseller and publisher who married Joyce Norton (d. 1643), the widow of John Norton I (1556/7-1612) who had published Gerard's Herball in 1597, affadavit: “Decemb the 3d 1632 Memorand I doe warrant this to bee of the last Impression Perfect and if Mr Capell please to change it for one of the new Impression when it cometh out he giving mee twenty shillings and this Booke I doe promise to take it agayne if it be so well condition as now wittness my hand the day and yeare above written Richard Whittaker.”

Arthur Capel, later 1st Baron Capel of Hadham (1610?-1649), of Hadham Hall, Hertfordshire, thence by descent; by descent through the Earls of Essex, Cassiobury Park, Hertfordshire, with their gilt “SX” cypher beneath an earl's coronet on the spine

Irene Ruth Marden, née Hawkshaw (1898-1965), bookplate. Marden was a collector of herbals and author, as Irene Gosse, of A Florilege: Chosen from Old Herbals (1931)


Henrey 154; Hunt 174; Nissen BBI 698; STC 11750; Catherine Horwood, Gardening Women (Virago Press, 2010), pp.9-10; Anna Parkinson, Nature's Alchemist: John Parkinson, Herbalist to Charles I (Francis Lincoln, 2005), pp.248-249


Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

A fine, coloured copy, with a distinguished provenance, and extensive early seventeenth-century botanical annotations by Thomasin Tunstall, the first recorded woman botanist and plant-collector in England. This copy was with the publisher and bookseller Richard Whitaker in 1632, and then went to the Capel family, later the Earls of Essex (see below), but the annotations indicate that the book had a fascinating owner before this date. One of the two seventeenth-century hands which annotate this copy gives locations to some of the plants centring on Lancashire and Yorkshire locations; they are clearly the notes of a dedicated herbalist and collector, and the only known candidate for this period and this area is Thomasin Tunstall, who lived near Hornby Castle, Lancashire. A relation of the royal equerry Sir John Tunstall, who himself had a fine garden, she is known to have corresponded with, and sent specimens to, John Parkinson, and is mentioned in his Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris (1629) as “a courteous Gentlewoman, a great lover of these delights” (p.348). Parkinson mentions that Tunstall has located the wild white hellebore in “a wood or place called the Helkes, which is three miles from Ingleborough”; in the present copy the annotator has mentioned Helkes in Ingleborough as a plant location on p.976.

One of the annotations on the “Prickly Indian Fig tree” (p.1329) shows that the writer had knowledge of Parkinson’s collection, noting that the plant is to be found “in Mr. Parkinson’s gardin at the siyne of the goulden morter on Ludyat Hill” (according to the ODNB, Parkinson left his garden at Ludgate Hill for Long Acre before 1622). A different note shows acquaintance with another notable plant collector of the north-west: in several places Tunstall refers to Mr Hesketh, this being the Lancastrian Thomas Hesketh (1560-1613), who was “one of the earliest north-country botanists [and] became the source of a great deal of the botanical information used in Gerard's famous Herball” (ODNB).

A second, slightly later hand cross-refers to other printed herbals by Lonicer and Dodoens and gives details of the colours of the various flowers. In, addition many illustrations have a code of up to four small circle or half-circles beside them the meaning of which remains unknown. It is possible that some these notes and markings refer to the production of the second edition of the Herbal (1633), edited by Thomas Johnson, and published by Whitaker himself.