Pinax Rerum Naturalism (Christopher Merrett)
Among the herbals described in this exhibit, Pinax Rerum Naturalism is perhaps the most contentious. Published in 1667 by Christopher Merret, the book is arranged primarily as an encyclopedia, with Merrett offering an alphabetical list of British plants without further commentary. While the volume is compelling because it is the first British encyclopedic work that includes a list of birds and butterflies, it is less celebrated as a herbal because it lacks the overall comprehensiveness common to contemporary works.
In this copy, a handwritten note describes the distinct problems of the Herbal, as identified by the 18th-century botanist Ralph Thoresby, who annotated this book. For more information on Thoresby, see the first image below.
A Look Inside
A transcriptions of Ralph Thoresby's notes on Pinax Rerum Naturalism:
"Dr. Merrett has enumerated upwards of 1400 species of English Plants. But he has introduced many as new, which on subsequent examination proved to be only varieties, some exotics, evidently of accidental offspring of gardens, & many that could never be found by succeeding Botanists in the places specified by him. Ray, only three years after, continued the number to 1600. However, several British Plants made their first appearance in this Pinax."
- Pulteney's Prog.
Left image: Like the other books donated by E.D. Hoeniger, this book has a paste-in paper in its front matter, with type-written bibliographic notes about the author and the autograph on title page. See above for the autograph, which was left by Ralph Thoresby in the 1700s.
Right image: The dedication page features classic decorations, including the decorate top-edge border of fleur-de-lis, and the ornamented first initial.
The book differs from other herbals of the time because it does not feature illustrations. Instead, the plants are organized in alphabetical order like a traditional encyclopedia.
PINAX Rerum Naturalism BRITANNICARUM, Continens VEGETABILIA, ANIMALIA, ET FOSSILIA, In hac Inſula reperta inchoatus. AUTHORE Christophoro Merrett, Medicinae Doctore utriuſque Societatis Regiae Socio primoque Muſaei Har-veani Cuſtode. Mή τώ λόγω υουνον χΜχ ξρζω δπνουιζ τδς ίητρδς. Hipp. LONDINI, Typis T. Roycroft, Impenſis Cave Pulleyn. MDCLXVII.
PUBLISHER: Printed by T. Roycroft.
ITEM TYPE: Book
CALL NUMBER: Uncatalogued
NOTE: ESTC records 21 copies.
TYPE: Roman; Italic
LANGUAGES: English, Greek
DEDICATIONS: Ornatiſſimo Viro Baldvino Hamet Medicinae Doctori, Collegii Med. Lond. Socio, Electori, Thelaurario, Singularique Benefactori.
ILLUSTRATIONS: Decorations on dedication page and ornamented initials.
PRINTED MARGINALIA: Extensive writing in front matter. Third leaf has an extended note reading: "Dr. Merrett has enumerated upwards of 1400 species of English Plants. But he has introduced many as new, which on subsequent examination proved to be only varieties, some exotics, evidently of accidental offspring of gardens, & many that could never be found by succeeding Botanists in places specified by him. Ray, only three years after, continued the number to 1060. However, several British Plants made their first appearance in this pinax." - Pulteney's Prog.
Boards: Brown pasteboards with burgundy-brown raised spine, with six compartments and five raised bands. Compartment two has title "Merrett Pinax" tooled in gold, Gothic font; and compartment six has the year "1667" tooled in gold, Roman font. Pages: Leaves are composed of foolscap.