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AUSTEN, Ralph.

Observations upon some part of Sr Francis Bacon's Naturall History as it concernes, Fruit-trees, Fruits, and Flowers:

especially the fifth, sixth, and seaventh [sic] centuries, improving the experiments mentioned, to the best advantage.

Oxford: Printed by Hen: Hall for Thomas Robinson, 1658 Stock Code: 129008
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Challenging Francis Bacon's theory of the descent of sap

First edition. Ralph Austen (c. 1612-1676) is a fascinating figure, a combination of self-taught gardener and religious radical, whose "approach to horticulture was innovative, experimental, and sceptical of the authority of theorists" (ODNB). Here he challenges Sir Francis Bacon over his theory of the descent of sap, opposing the findings of his friend Robert Boyle, the book's dedicatee. Madan comments that the "treatise is practical as well as critical, and affords advice of various kinds".

Provenance: from the Lawes Agricultural Library, with their neat stamp to rear endpaper and small pencilled shelf mark to title page. The library was assembled in the early 20th century by Sir John Russell, director of the Rothamsted agricultural research institution in Hertfordshire, and ranked as one of the finest English collections of agricultural material.

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Small quarto (198 x 150 mm), pp. 46. Early 20th-century tan calf by Riviere and Son, spine lettered in gilt, gilt roll tool turn-ins, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt, others uncut.


Woodcut head-pieces and initials.


A number of neat contemporary marginal markings (in the form of a trefoil). Light rubbing to calf, patch of abrasion to front endpaper, a few instances of light soiling to contents, small hole through A4 (touching a few letters), paper flaw at foot of final leaf (clear of letterpress). A very good, well-margined copy, complete with the single leaf "Table" at the end.


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