Hand-colored engraving
Benjamin Smith Barton (1766—1815).
Vegetable Materia Medica of the United States: or, Medical Botany.
Philadelphia: M. Carey & Son, 1817—19
Arents Collection of Books in Parts, The New York Public Library

 
launches separate browser  
(128 k)  
 

Benjamin Smith Barton wrote the first original textbook of botany published in the United States, Elements of Botany (Philadelphia, 1803). Trained in medicine at various universities, including the University of Edinburgh, he taught natural history, botany, materia medica, and physic at the University of Pennsylvania. He owned the largest private collection of natural history books and the largest collection of native American plants of his day.

Thomas Jefferson urged Barton to write a natural history of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Left unfinished at Barton's death, the work began appearing two years later, and was one of the first botanical works with colored plates to be published in the United States. The illustrations, including this one of the May Apple, were drawn from nature by Barton's nephew, William Paul Crillon Barton. The Library's copy is unbound, in its original portfolios and wrappered parts.


SEE the Exhibit     |     LEARN About the Exhibit     |     The New York Public Library Homepage

© 2001 The New York Public Library