The American Physitian; or, a Treatise of the Roots, Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Fruit, Herbs &c. growing in the English Plantations in America. Describing the Place, Time, Names, Kindes, Temperature, Vertues and Uses of them, either for Diet, Physick, &c. Whereunto is added a Discourse of the Cacao-Nut-Tree, and the use of its Fruit; with all the ways of making of Chocolate. The like never extant before.

“The Earliest Work in English on the Medicinal Virtues

of North American Tropical Plants”

The American Physitian; or, a Treatise of the Roots, Plants, Trees, Shrubs, Fruit, Herbs &c. growing in the English Plantations in America. Describing the Place, Time, Names, Kindes, Temperature, Vertues and Uses of them, either for Diet, Physick, &c. Whereunto is added a Discourse of the Cacao-Nut-Tree, and the use of its Fruit; with all the ways of making of Chocolate. The like never extant before.

12 p.l. (the first a blank), 159, [9] pp. (final leaf blank). 12mo, cont. sheep (spine faded, a bit rubbed). London: J.C. for W. Crook, 1672.

First edition of “the earliest work in English on the medicinal virtues of North American tropical plants. Based on first-hand observations made in the West Indies. Evidence suggests that Hughes began his career in 1651 with a privateering voyage to the West Indies, during which he traveled to Barbados, St. Kitts, Cuba, Jamaica and mainland Florida. He appears to have spent a good deal of time visiting British plantations on Jamaica and Barbados, where he observed and made descriptions of a large number of New World tropical plants including potatoes, yams, maize (‘the wheat of America’), bananas, avocadoes (‘Spanish pears’), chili peppers, watermelons, sugarcane, guavas, prickly pears, coconuts and manioc. Hughes’s work ‘contributed greatly to the spread of the American indigenous use of plants either for Meat or Medicine.’–Wilson & Hurst, Chocolate as Medicine [2012] p. 55.”–Garrison-Morton 7007 (on-line version, new addition).

While little is known about Hughes (active 1665-83), he did leave evidence in his books that he had worked at one time at Radley, in Warwickshire, and that he had travelled throughout England and to the vineyards in Europe. This book was written during his time in the West Indies.

The last third of Hughes’s book is devoted to the medicinal properties of chocolate, which he called the “American nectar.”

This is an extremely rare book on the market and our copy is very fine in its first binding.

❧ Henrey, I, p. 204 & no. 203 in the bibliography.

Price: $27,500.00

Item ID: 5541