Plate 202, The Palm or Date Tree

Elizabeth Blackwell

Published by London, 1739
Condition: Very Good No Binding
From Arader Galleries San Francisco (San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

In 1737, Elizabeth Blackwell (1700-17587) produced a delightful volume, “A Curious Herbal”, containing many decorative plates of various plants. Such herbals, illustrating and describing plants for their alleged medicinal powers, were the medical books of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This splendid, hand-colored engraving from “A Curious Herbal,” Plate 202, The Palm or Date Tree, measures 18” x 11.25” and is in very good condition with light staining on the left edge and evidence of verso page text. Illustrated on this engraving is the frond and fruit of a date tree, a type of palm. Date trees are popular for their very sweet fruits, illustrated in a vibrant yellow-orange color. Adding a scientific aspect to this aesthetic engraving is the labeling of the husk with flower, the fruit and the stone, or pit of the fruit. In the 18th century, talented and fiercely independent women seem to have flourished in the field of botanical illustration and Mrs. Blackwell, neither an artist nor a botanist, was suddenly faced with the problem of obtaining her doctor husband’s release from a debtor’s prison, where he was languishing after an abortive foray into the printing business. On the advice of Sir Hans Sloane, the famous London Physician and patron of naturalists, who had told her that a herbal of medicinal plants was needed, the resourceful lady set herself up in lodgings near the Chelsea Physic Garden, founded by the Society of Apothecaries on a piece of land donated by Sloane, and proceeded to make drawings of the appropriate plants and herbals. The result of her initiative and labors was “A Curious Herbal”, with 500 hand-colored copperplate engravings. The indirect result was Dr. Alexander Blackwell’s release from prison. Her efforts on his behalf certainly seem worthwhile today to anyone looking at “A Curious Herbal”. Bookseller Inventory # gq1606e

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Plate 202, The Palm or Date Tree

Publisher: London

Publication Date: 1739

Binding: No Binding

Book Condition:Very Good

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The world's largest selection of the works of John James Audubon, Pierre-Joseph Redoute, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, historically important maps, natural history engravings and watercolors, lithographs of the American West, Californiana, Hawaiiana and Western Americana. Located at 432 Jackson Street in Historic Jackson Square, San Francisco, and online at

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