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Natural History

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"Sir" John Hill In Italian

HILL, Giovanni. Decade di Alberi curiosi ed eleganti delle Indie Orientali e dell'America ultimamente fatte gia note dall'idioma Inglese, ridotto all Italiana Favella, col lasciare intatta la descrizione Latina, a corredata di aliquante note. Rome, Stamperia Salomoni, 1786.

4to. [17.5 x 23.5 cm], (4) ff., 31 (1) pp., 10 engraved plates signed Bianchi after P. Maioli. Bound in quarter vellum and brown pebbled boards, title gilt on spine. Blank margin of title soiled, otherwise excellent.


Scarce first Italian edition of this description of ten “curious and elegant” trees and plants from the East Indies and America, some of which are said to be illustrated for the first time (so Plesch). Among the plants are the Inca Lily, the Elephant Apple, the Mimosa Sorrel (whose leaves close at the slightest touch), the Yellow American Water Lily, the Orange Grape (prized for the fragrance of its flowers), and the Venus Flytrap. For each, 2-4 pages of text describe habitat and characteristics. The work first appeared in London, 1773.

Hill (1714-1775), a British botanist and astoundingly prolific author, is credited with writing the first books on British flora to use the Linnean system of nomenclature: Flora Britanica, 1759, and the 26-volume The Vegetable System, 1759-1775. Hill was an advisor to John Stuart, third Earl of Bute, when Bute began laying out Kew Gardens in 1760. This appears to be the only Hill title published in Italian.

* Hunt 679; Nissen BBI 878 (without noting prelimins); Pritzel 4076; P.A. Gerstner in DSB VI.400-01; Henrey II.102ff., with illustration of plate 7, p. 104.

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