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LINNAEUS, Carl (1707–1778)

Materia medica, liber I. De plantis. Secundum. Genera, loca, nomina, qualitates, vires, differentias, durationes, simplicia, modos, usus, synonyma, culturas, præparata, potentias, composita, digestus.
Holmiæ [Stockholm], Typis ac sumptibus Laurentii Salvii, 1749.

First edition of this classic within pharmacological literature. It covers the vegetable kingdom only (Liber I. De plantis); the animal and mineral kingdoms appear in two of Linnaeus’ dissertations: Materia medica in regno animalium, 1750 (resp. Jonas Sidrén) and Materia medica in regno lapideum, 1752 (resp. Johan Lindhult). Later editions were published abroad by Johann Christian Daniel Schreber, one of Linnaeus’ German pupils. The last one, editio quinta, was published in 1787. The Materia medica of 1749 contains the Linnaean names of 535 medicinal plants, several of which are for the first time reduced to their proper genera and species, followed by the synonym in Bauhin’s Pinax, or if the plant was unknown to Bauhin, the synonym of the first discoverer. This is followed by LOC., the country of origin, if it is a herb, shrub or tree, whether it be annual, biennal, or perennial, and also whether it be indigenous, or, if not, whether it may thrive well by common cultivation in gardens, or require defense from cold of the winter in Sweden; PHARM., the Swedish officinal name, what parts are used, and the doses adminstered; OUAL., the taste and smell of the plant, whether bitter, aromatic, acid, etc.; VIS., its reputed effects on the human body; USUS., the diseases for which it is most frequently prescribed; COMP., the composed medicines into which it enters in the Swedish pharmacopoeia. Materia medica was a favourite subject for Linnaeus during his entire life. He gives instructions as to the proper time and mode of collecting simples and recommended the choice, as far as possible, of native plants, not only as they were cheaper but also because they were more likely to be fresh and unadulterated.

Collation: Pp (32), 252. Engraved frontispiece and one folding engraved plate (Serpentum Radix).

Binding: Contemporary half calf with ruled spine and sprinkled boards.

References: Soulsby 968; Krok 98; Stafleu & Cowan, Taxonomic Literature 4751; Pulteney (1805), pp 94-105; Hagelin, Materia Medica, pp 172-73; W. Bruce Fye Antiquarian Medical Books (Oct. 2004). Waller 5907.

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