University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


 Herbal of William Turner
Herbal of William Turner


One of the premier collections of the University of Delaware Library, the Unidel History of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Collection, is an interdisciplinary resource that supports a multitude of the University's academic programs and reflects its historic status as a land-grant institution. Imprints ranging from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries represent a broad range of horticultural literature including botany, medical botany, landscape architecture, agricultural chemistry, floriculture, gardening, and practical and ornamental horticulture. The greatest strengths of the collection is in American horticultural publishing beginning in the 1820s and in the European roots of the American tradition.

The collection includes rare runs of early agricultural and horticultural society reports and periodicals, unique copies of seed and nursery catalogs, nursery plate books, trade catalogs for agricultural implements and garden furniture, and advertising ephemera. Monographic holdings covering the literature of vegetable and fruit culture, and gardening are comprehensive, and include multiple editions of many works, often in variant issues and bindings.

Outstanding examples of botanical illustration can be seen in the horticulture collection, ranging from the woodcuts in William Turner's Herbal of 1568 to the hand-colored engravings of William Curtis's Flora Londinensis of 1777 to the chromolithography of The Fruits of America by Charles Hovey (1851-1856). Several unusual examples of "nature printing," or books printed using actual plant specimens, such as The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland by Thomas Moore (1857) are also in the collection. The collection of nineteenth-century nursery sample books includes a fascinating overview of illustrative techniques including watercolors, stencil printing, chromolithography, and photoreproductive printing.

 Herbal of William Turner William Turner, d. 1568.
The First and Seconde Partes of the Herbal of William Turner ... lately oversene, corrected and enlarged with the thirde parte, lately gathered, and nowe set oute with the names ofthe herbes in Greke, Latin, English, Duche, Frenche, and in the Apothecaries and herbaries Latin, with the properties, degrees, and naturall places of the same. ... Collen: Imprinted by Arnold Birckman, 1568.

William Turner (1510/15-1568), known as the "father of British botany," was a physician and minister whose Protestant views led to imprisonment and exile. His Herbal, published between 1551 and 1568, was considered forward thinking for its day as he disputed the superstitions of his contemporaries. The illustrations for the Herbal were taken from De Historia Stirpium by the Bavarian botanist Leonhart Fuchs, published in Basel in 1542.

Sieur Andrieux (Firm).
Catalogue de toutes sortes de graines, tant potagères, que légumes, salades, graines de fleurs & oignons de fleurs, de plus excellens fruits, les plus rares & les plus estimés qui se cultivent ... A Paris: [The firm] 1766.

One of the earliest trade catalogs in the University of Delaware's collection, this seed catalog was produced by the firm of Vilmorin-Andrieux, a company founded in the beginning years of the eighteenth century. The firm, which held royal appointments, supplied seeds and plants for the gardens of the Palais des Tuileries, the French royal residence adjacent to the Louvre in Paris.

Humphry Marshall, 1722-1801.
Arbustrum Americanum: The American Grove, or, an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States. Philadelphia: Printed by J. Crukshank, 1785.

Humphry Marshall (1722-1801) was a botanist who owned a farm and botanic garden in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Arbustrum Americanum, a list of native forest trees and shrubs described according to the Linnean system, was the first book published on American trees. It is also considered to be the first published botanical book by a native-born American.

Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening Humphry Repton, 1752-1818.
Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening: Collected from Designs and Observations Now in the Possession of the Different Noblemen and Gentlemen, for whose Use They Were Originally Made. The Whole Tending to Establish Fixed Principles in the Art of Laying Out Ground. London: Printed by W. Bulmer, 1794.

Humphry Repton developed the concept of landscape design to include both architecture and garden design. Repton's books, including Sketches and Hints, were compilations of landscape reports for his prospective clients. The books include hand-colored aquatint prints of individual estates with paper flaps or slide overlays which, when flat, depict the unimproved scenes and, when raised, show Repton's plans for the improved gardens.

A Selection of Fruits of America J. and G. Prestele.
A Selection of Fruits of America. Iowa County, Iowa: Amana Society, 1861.

Joseph Prestele (1796-1867), a Bavarian botanical illustrator and lithographer, moved to America as part of a religious community that founded the utopian settlement at Amana in Iowa. Assisted by his son Gottlieb, Joseph Prestele produced hundreds of plates illustrating the fruits and vegetables for sale by the nurserymen of the Community. Virtually unknown as an artist for over a hundred years, Prestele has recently been recognized as one of the foremost practitioners of American botanical illustration in the nineteenth century.

Edward Tatnall's Descriptive Catalogue of the Wawaset Nurseries Edward Tatnall's Descriptive Catalogue of the Wawaset Nurseries, Wilmington, Delaware. Wilmington, Del.: [Edward Tatnall, circa 1860]

Myer & Son Bridgeville Nurseries.
A Fruit-Growers' Catalogue of Fruit Trees for Profit. Bridgeville, Del.: The Company, 1901.

Caleb Boggs & Son.
Twenty-Sixth Annual Catalogue: Small Fruit and Vegetable Plants. Everything in its Season. Cheswold, Del.: Caleb Boggs & Son, 1906.

These three nursery seed catalogs reflect the rural culture of Delaware. While the companies have long since disappeared, the family names "Tatnall" and "Boggs" are still well known throughout the region.

George Washington Carver, 1864?-1943.
The Sweet Potato as a Flour Substitute. Alabama: Tuskegee Institute, circa 1914.

George Washington Carver was an African-American agricultural chemist, agronomist, and experimenter whose development of new products derived from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans helped revolutionize the agricultural economy of the South. Carver enlarged the commercial possibilities of the peanut and sweet potato through a long and ingenious program of laboratory research. He ultimately developed one hundred eighteen products from sweet potatoes, including flour, vinegar, molasses, rubber, ink, a synthetic rubber, and postage stamp glue.

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