ESTIENNE, Charles Seminarium, et plantarium fructiferarum praesertim arborum quae post hortos conseri solent

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1540


8vo, pp. 193, [23]. Roman letter, little Greek; printer’s device on title; a few tiny ink spots on blank outer margin of title, occasional spotting, very light waterstains to inner lower corner in second half. A very good copy in seventeenth-century vellum, recased, a. e. sprinkled; very lightly stained; faint contemporary marginal annotation in Latin on p. 61.

Second expanded edition of a curious encyclopaedia of fruit-trees illustrating nomenclature and cultivation, first published in 1536. Second son of Henri Estienne, the famous humanist printer and founder of the Estienne family press, Charles (1504-1564) was a pioneer in French anatomy and a respected Latin scholar. He published influential anatomical treatises and Latin textbooks, though he also contributed to agronomy and descriptions of rural life. Relying on ancient as well as contemporary sources, Seminarium et planetarium is particularly valuable for its account of the different types of apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, figs, nuts, citruses, olives and other fruits. For instance, it records for the first time the Martin Sec pear as a autochthonous species of France. The second part of the book dwells on sawing, pruning, transplantation, extirpation and general maintenance of plants. One can find guidelines for olive oil extraction, occasional reference to vines and vineyard management and, most curiously, the recipe for pear wine as prepared in antiquity. The work was published by Charles’s brother, Robert, who was at the time the Royal Printer for Hebrew and Latin publications, as he proudly pointed out on the colophon. When Robert fled to Geneva because of his Calvinist belief in 1551, Charles, who remained Catholic, took over the management of the Parisian Estienne workshop for a decade.

BM STC Fr., 156; Adams, S 1743; Renouard, 49:3; Schreiber, 61; Oberlé, 682 (1545 ed.); Simon, II, 231 (Lyon 1537 reprint).

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