The renowned LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden counts among its holdings a few of the most beautiful and pioneering botanical and horticultural works ever created. More than eight centuries of knowledge, from the twelfth century to the current, are represented within the library’s number of over 1,000,000 items. On this sumptuously illustrated volume, international experts introduce us to one of the most library’s most fascinating works—exceedingly rare books, stunning botanical artistic endeavors, handwritten manuscripts, Renaissance herbals, nursery catalogs, explorers’ notebooks, and more. The contributors hold these treasures up for close inspection and offer surprising insights into their histories and importance.
The various materials showcased within the volume reflect the creative efforts of eminent explorers, scientists, artists, publishers, and print makers. From the rare, illuminated pages of Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis historia (1483), to the earliest book ever published on American insects (1797), to lovely etchings of the water gardens at Villa Pratolino in Florence (1600s), the Mertz Library holdings will inspire in readers a new appreciation for the strange history of botany and its far-reaching connections to the worlds of science, books, art, and culture.