Hill, John; A General Natural History: or, New and Accurate Descriptions of the Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals, of the Different Parts of the World; with their Virtues and Uses, as far as hitherto certainly known with Their Virtues and Uses, as far as hitherto certainly known, in Medicine and Mechanics: Illustrated By a General Review of the Knowledge of the Ancients, and the Discoveries and Improvements of later Ages in these Studies. Including The History of the Materia Medica, Pictoria, and Tinctoria, of the Present and Earlier Ages. As also Observations on the neglected Properties of many valuable Substances known at present; and Attempts to discover the lost Medicines, &c. of former Ages, in a Series of Critical Enquires into the Materia Medica of the Ancient Greeks. With a great Number of Figures, elegantly engraved. London, Printed for Thomas Osborne, 1748-1752. 3 volumes.
Folio.Vol 1 Fossils (Minerals) pp. half title, title, 2, 654 + 6 (index) with 1 folding table; 12 engraved hand colored plates, Vol 2 Plants (1751) pp. half title, title, xxvi + 642 + 7 (index) with 16 engraved hand colored plates, Vol 3 (1752) Animals pp. half title, title preface 2, 584 + 2 (index) with 28 engraved hand colored plates. All of the plates are hand-colored in this rare printing.
The set is complete and in a contemporary full calf with a later calf spine and marbled end sheets and gilt spine titles. Inner hinges re-enforced, old owner’s plate removed from front paste down. Owner's penned signature with 1834 date on first end sheet. The boards are rubbed, with some light wear. The text is lightly toned at some margins, volume three has a light damp margin to the other edge. The plates are clean and bright.
John Hill (1707-1775), was a British botanist, apothecary and physician. He was well-known for his publications on natural science. A General Natural History is considered to be his most important work. The history of fossils volume is Hills first publication on mineralogy. His description of the minerals is often based on microscopic examination, and on that basis Hill divides them into series, classes and orders. Hill invented a unique nomenclature that took a mineral's distinguishing properties, and he then gave them their Greek designations to form descriptive polysyllabic names. The folding table at the end of the volume also shows a classification system for fossils.The volume on plants is considered to be Hills major publication on botany. In this volume Hill introduced the classification system of Linnaeus to England. He describes several species and types of plants, their physical appearance, size, geographic range and rarity. He describes algae, fungi and cacti, but also flowers such as gladiolas, hyacinths and daffodils. He also describes more exceptional trees, such as the coffee tree and the tamarinde tree, and vegetables and herbs, such as parsnip, anise and coriander. Sometimes the English common names of some plants are printed in gothic type. The volume on animals describes different classes of the animal kingdom.Occasionally, a very rare copy of Hill's History of Fossils is found with the plates hand-colored. A note on the back of volume three's title page states, "There are a small number printed for the curious on Royal Paper; and the cuts of these are colored under the immediate inspection of the author.” (Schuh).
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