Selectarum Stirpium Americanum HistoriaJACQUIN, Nikolaus Joseph
Vindobonae [Vienna] Ex Officina Krausiana. 1763.
First edition. 4to. 390x250mm. pp. [x], vii, [v], 284, [14, index and list of plates], frontispiece to plates and 184 plates number I-XXXVII, XXXVII*, XXXVIII-CLXXXIII. Title page engraving of ships at sea off a paradisal island rich in flora, fauna and tensions between natives and visitors. The frontispiece to the botanical plates shows two Native Americans holding a map of Caribbean Islands surrounded by a frame constructed of local plants. Six of the plates are folding. The engravings were made by Jacob Wangner after Jacquin's own drawings. Engraved headpieces and tailpieces. Blue-grey paper over boards, red morocco recently rebacked. Joints recently repaired. Six raised bands, lettered in gilt in second compartment. Wear to the corners and edges with some loss of paper covering. Some marking to boards. Small amount of worming to front free endpaper and front pastedown. The contents are in very good condition, with only minimal and occasional spotting and foxing and the plates are particularly clean and fresh. This is a lovely copy of Jacquin's first major publication and his first illustrated work.
Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin was born in Leiden in 1727 where he studied botany before moving to Paris, then Vienna. It was when working for the Holy Roman Emperor, Francis I that he was sent, in 1755, to the Caribbean to collect plant specimens for the royal collection which was being used to create the gardens at the Schönbrunn Palace outside Vienna. The importance of this work lies in its adoption of the Linnaean system, Jacquin being a younger contemporary of Linnaeus and the first writer in German to use the new system of botanical classification. Accordingly Selectarum Stirpium is of central importance for the study of Caribbean plant life. On his return to Vienna in 1759, Jacquin worked on the completion of this book and then embarked on a highly successful academic career culminating his election to many international scientific societies and his being created a Baron in 1806.