[F., N.]

[F., N.] The husbandmans fruitfull orchard. Shewing diuers rare new secrets for the true ordering of all sortes of fruite in their due seasons. ..

London, Imprinted [by R. Bradock] for Roger Iackson, 1608


4to. pp. [iv], 28. Black letter, some Roman and Italic. Historiated woodcut initials, woodcut headpieces, Cornelius J. Hauck’s bookplate on pastedown, bibliographical note (concerning the rarity of this edition) tipped on fly. Title-page and last leaf a little soiled and damp stained, headline fractionally shaved in the Epistle to the Reader, light age yellowing, the occasional mark or spot. A good copy in modern half calf over marbled paper boards.

The exceptionally rare 1608 reissue of ‘The Fruiterers Secrets’ first published in 1604, located by ESTC in one other copy only, at the British Library, with the dedication cancelled and with a cancel title-page. This copy has the title-page corrected to read “rare” for “care” (this is uncorrected in some copies, see STC). The work is a wonderfully written and most practical handbook on the gathering, picking, sorting and storing of various fruits, including cherries, apples, pears and quinces, and by extension the work also gives a most interesting insight into the flourishing fruit trade that took place in late Elizabethan England, particularly around London. The author, the unidentified ’N.F.’, gives an interesting account in his preface of the importation of grafts brought from France and the Netherlands, that helped to develop English fruit trees (“especially pippins; before which time there was no right pippins in England”) by Richard Harris, who was fruiterer to Henry VIII. Harris created a fruit orchard at Tenham in Kent on the King’s ground using these foreign grafts. The author describes this orchard as “the chiefe Mother of all other orchards for those kindes of fruites in Kent, and of divers other places. And afore that these said grafts were fetched out of Fraunce, and the Lowe Countries, although there was some store of fruite in England, yet there wanted both rare fruite, and lasting fine fruit.”

The work deals in turn with cherries, (“foure sorts here in England – flemish cherries, English cherries, Gascoyne cherries and blacke cherries.”), all other stone fruit (apricots peaches, plums damsons etc), pears, apples, wardens, and quinces. The author was clearly a ‘fruiterer’ in that he gives detailed instructions as to the various methods of storing each fruit, and how to transport fruit by waterways. Most of the work concerns picking and storing but it also gives advice on the growing of fruit trees, particularly the placement of trees and the soil in which certain trees will produce better fruit. His principal concern however was that once “the great paines that have been taken, in planting, setting, grafting, & proyning, whereby a great deal of ground hath been taken up, which might serve for other good purposes, I thought good to shew what course might bee taken, that means Labours be not lost, nor such great quantity of ground wherin fruit doth growe, lye in waste (as it were) and become unprofitable, through ignorance of well handling the fruite, after God hath given it.”

An exceptionally rare edition of this very charming work.

ESTC S119936. (one copy only). STC 10651. Not in Lowndes.

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