Guide to the Research Collections

- Botany


As has been previously noted, holdings in the field of botany are not strong. A check of the section entitled "Most Frequently Cited Serials" in Charles Harvey Brown's Scientific Serials (1956) reveals that the library has active or complete files of only nine of the first twenty-five titles, most of them in biochemistry, biophysics, or agriculture rather than in the field of botany proper. Some twelve titles in botany are currently

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available in the Periodicals Section; these are from the United States, Canada, Poland, Brazil, England, and Germany, among them items such as the Botanical Review (1935- ) and the Boletim (1944- ) of the Museo Nacional in Rio de Janeiro. The General Research and Humanities Division collects only standard reference texts of broad general interest.

Although the general research services of the library are not strong in botanical works, there are a number of rarities in the special and subject collections that should be mentioned. The Prints Division houses a few curious examples of nature printing from actual specimens, including one of the first books to be so illustrated, Christiano Gottlieb Ludwig's Ectypa Vegetalilium (1760). The division has copies of both the "lottery" or quarto and the folio editions of Robert John Thornton's Temple of Flora. It has also Rudolf Koch and Fritz Kredel's Das Blumenbuch (1929). The Rare Book Division's holdings in botany were enriched in 1965 by the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Pál Keleman of some forty books ranging in date from the early sixteenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth, including the work of many of the most famous European botanists, among them Otto Brunfels. Charles de l'Écluse, John Parkinson, and J. C. Volckamer.4

Both the Arents Tobacco Collection and the Arents Collection of Books in Parts contain fine botanical books, and the collections are actively adding to the holdings. In the Arents Tobacco Collection the criterion for selection has been the mention of the tobacco plant, the earliest example being Rembert Dodoens's Crüyde Boeck (1554). Fine examples of botanical books originally issued in parts include Redouté's Descriptions des Plantes Rares et Cultivées à Malmaison (1812-17), Henry John Elwes's A Monograph of the Genus Lilium (1877-80), and John Guille Millais's Rhododendrons (1917-24).

Manuscripts are notable in the Spencer Collection's holdings of botanical works. A fifteenth-century "Tacuinum Sanitatis" ("table of health") from northern Italy contains 200 representations of plants and simples in pen-and-ink and color.5 An eighteenth-century German "Hortus Floridus" is illustrated with hundreds of watercolor drawings of plants and flowers. Among the large number of Japanese manuscripts and scrolls are herbals selected for their aesthetic, artistic, and botanical interest. The earliest of these is a manuscript scroll from 1165, "Koyaku Zukan" (Incense of Medicine). There are others produced during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.