BULLIARD, Pierre. Dictionnaire élémentaire de botanique, ou exposition par ordre alphabétique, des Préceptes de la Botanique, & de tous les Termes, tant françois que latins, consacrés à l’étude de cette Science…

Price : 3.500,00 

Extremely rare first edition of the Dictionnaire de botanique published by Bulliard in order to complete his Herbier de France.
An attractive copy preserved untrimmed in its original boards, internally very fresh.

1 in stock

Paris, chez l’Auteur et chez Didot le jeune, Barrois le jeune, Belin, 1783.

Folio of viii pp., 242 pp., (7) ll. of plate’s explanation and (1) l. of errata, 10 full-page plates including 9 in colors. Publisher’s blue marbled paper boards with a title-piece in the center of the upper cover, flat spine, untrimmed, slightly rubbed. Contemporary binding.

352 x 226 mm.

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Very rare first edition of this highly practical botanical dictionary, which was reprinted many times in the last years of the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Pritzel, 1355. Monglond IV, 288.

« Jean Baptiste François Bulliard (1752-1793), called Pierre Bulliard, was another picturesque outsider whose works represented the Linnaean tradition in Paris. Bulliard was a descriptive naturalist, little given to theoretical or methodological meditations, but an industrious and skilled draftsman and floristic botanist” (Stafleu).

Bulliard was appointed to a position by the Abbot of Clairvaux. He spent his time there in retirement studying anatomy and botany in the best works available. He also learnt drawing, and then came to Paris to continue his medical studies; but his taste for natural history made him change his mind. He resolved to combine in himself the talents of the artist with those of the author, perfected the knowledge he had acquired in drawing, and learnt to engrave under François Martinet, a skilled painter and engraver.

It was the publication of his Herbier de France, which began to be distributed in notebooks in 1780, that made him a household name. At the time of its launch, it was supposed to include five sections: poisonous plants, medicinal plants, mushrooms, succulents, fruiting plants and forages. Abundantly illustrated by him, this publication benefits from a new technique, developed by Johannes Teyler, which eliminates the need for brush retouching, thus lowering the cost of manufacturing the book without compromising the quality of the color design. In addition, selling by delivery enabled the author to spread printing costs over time, and put the book on sale at a modest price.

A disciple of Rousseau, Bulliard’s ambition was to popularize botany and make it accessible to as many people as possible. He didn’t make any discoveries, nor did he pursue any research, but he did synthesize what was already known, opening up new avenues of thought.

As soon as his book was published, he felt the need to supplement it with a general dictionary of botany, aimed at readers who did not initially have a strong scientific background.

In 1783, he published the Dictionnaire élémentaire de botanique, ou Exposition par ordre alphabétique des préceptes de la botanique et de tous les termes, tant françois que latins, consacrés à l’étude de cette science, whose title page clearly states that it was written as an introduction to the Herbier de France.

A pedagogue first and foremost, Bulliard multiplies examples and case studies to support his demonstrations. In his descriptions, he constantly refers to illustrations that he wanted to be as accurate as possible. While the author’s primary aim is to “familiarize the reader with the language of Botany and make it easier to study the principles of this science”, he also aims to guide those who wish to go further in the study of botany, by tracing “a methodical plan for those who wish to cultivate it“.

To this end, in the Principles article, he explains that “one can see how to go about successfully embarking on the career of Botany, whether one is in a position to benefit from the assistance of a botanical garden, a natural or artificial herbarium, or whether, being absolutely remote from the literary trade, one has none of these resources at one’s disposal”. In the same vein, he defends the theory that “a method is an indispensable necessity, that it is a thread that guides us and brings us back to the goal when we lose our way”, but at the same time he can’t help castigating “the abuse that methods are all too often made of, and how, by changing the surface of Botany every day, they stand in the way of directing this science towards public utility”. It’s true that, at the time, botany, like other sciences, was in the phase of intellectual ferment that inevitably preceded the unification of the corpus and methodology, characterized by the multiplication of classifications, theories and methods.

Latin was the true “Esperanto” of botanists, and every plant name written in French was accompanied by its Latin equivalent. Bulliard enriches his book with a small Dictionnaire des termes latins utilisés en botanique, which is a translation of Linnaeus’ Termini Botanici, in which each word is cross-referenced to its definition in the main dictionary.

After Bulliard’s death in 1793, this successful dictionary was republished in 1797. It was then corrected and recast by Louis-Claude Rciahrd, who republished it in 1800, then in 1802 in a new, expanded version.

“Bulliard did the drawings and engravings for his works himself”.

This dictionary features 10 full-page plates in first issue drawn and engraved by Bulliard himself, 9 of which have been contemporary enhanced in colors.

An attractive copy preserved untrimmed in its original boards, internally very fresh.

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