AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - July - 2005 Issue

British Gardening Books from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

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Some of the gardening books offered by Shapero Rare Books.


In 1747 Robert Maxwell published the only edition of his Supplement to the ministers widows scheme, in a letter to the clergy, directing the improvement of their glebes. This is a book that allows us to add a new word to our vocabulary. A "glebe" is a revenue producing piece of land held by a church or church-related organization. While this book was directed to the clergy, it was important in introducing new agricultural practices in Scotland in the mid-eighteenth century. The book provides particularly detailed instructions on cultivating potatoes. Item 111. £1,750.

Item 3 is John Abercrombie's The gardener's pocket dictionary... This 1786 three-volume set makes you wonder how large people's pockets must have been in those days. Abercrombie was a popular gardening writer in his time, as well as running a nursery. His works were particularly helpful to the layman gardener, some lasting through many editions. This item is a first. £500.

Item 18 is a unique and unusual item. It is a manuscript on toxic plants in England. Around twenty poisonous plants are described, with ink and watercolor illustrations provided on the opposing pages. The drawings in this 1840 bound manuscript display a skilled hand. £2,000.

For those with a more mechanical interest, there is James Small's A Treatise on Ploughs and Wheel Carriages... Small was a farmer and plow builder who described the principles of plow designing as understood during his time, which in this case was 1784. Item 156. £675.

William Curtis did his best to promote a vegetable with little popularity, sea kale. Sea kale is common along the British coast, but was generally only eaten by the poor. It is similar to asparagus in that it starts each spring with long, edible shoots. However, it then develops leaves unlike the asparagus. Curtis' apologia is called Directions for cultivating the crambe maritime, or sea kale, for use of the table. Item 33. £1,250.

Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books is located online at www.shapero.com and may be reached by phone at +44 (0)20 7493 0876.

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