Ostensibly the catalogue of Rachel McMasters Hunt's private collection, which she donated to the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University, this is much more than a finely printed, luxurious bibliographical catalogue because it contains several lengthy authoritative essays. Contents include:
Vol. 1. Printed Books 1477-1700. With several manuscripts of the 12, 15th, 16th & 17th centuries. Compiled by Jane Quinby. The Introduction, through p. lxxxiv, consists of four parts:
1. Botany from 840 to 1700 by Harold William Rickets
2. Historical aspects of early botanical books by John Farquhar Fulton.
3. The dawn-time of modern husbandy by Paul Bigelow Sears.
4. The illustration of early botanical books by Wilfred Blunt.
Vol. 2., Part 1. Introduction to printed books 1701-1800. Compiled by Allan Stevenson. This volume of 244pp. consists of essays and methodology only:
1. Eighteenth-century botanical printed in color by Gordon Dunthorne
2. Gardening books of the eighteenth century by John Scott Lennox Gilmour
3. Botanical gardens and botanical literature in the eighteenth century by William Thomas Stearn
4. A bibliographical method for the description of botanical books by Allan Stevenson.
Vol. 2, Part 2. Printed books 1701-1800 compiled by Allan Stevenson.
In his introductory essay, "Medical aspects of early botanical books," John Fulton wrote, "The use of plants for their medicinal qualities long antedated any kind of description of the plants themselves." He then noted some of the most significant printed herbals included in the Hunt collection, and continued "The contributions to herbal literature grew apace in the sixteenth century, and there are many which had a particular contribution to make to the history of medicine. The names of Brunfels, Fuchs, Bock, Brunschwig, Valerius Cordus, Gesner, Caspar Bauhin, Ruellius, Rosslein, and Dodoens come quickly to mind." Discussing the significance of the collection described in great detail in this catalogue, Fulton concluded appropriately, relative to scholarship available at the time, "As one reviews the literature concerned with the herbals, it is evident that primary critical attention has been almost without exception been directed either to the botanical or the bibliographical features of the books and that as yet no one has had the courage to study all the texts from the earliest times for their medical content and to assess their historical value...."