Nancy: Author, 1741. 2 Volumes. Folio (31.5 x 20.1 cm). Contemporary vellum on stiff boards; manuscript labeling on spine for each volume; each volume with cloth ties on both boards. Vol. 1 has some loss at tail of spine and along front board, more so near fore edge. There is general age soiling to boards. Vol. 2 has some rodent damage with loss along the lower fore-edge of the first 10+ leaves. There is occasional insect damage to the paper in both volumes that affects some plants, mostly small areas of leaves.
Collation: Vol. 1 - [iv], [3-Blank] 1-3042 (342), [1-Recipe at top] pp.; Vol. 2 – [iv], [3- Blank], 1-308 pp. Numbered pages are only on verso. Vol. 1 has 193 pp. with preserved plants, many with several species, and 149 pp. with plant names only and occasional comment. Vol. 2. has 128 pp. of preserved plants and 180 pp. with only name of plant and occasional comment.
Information on medicinal uses of plants is written for a large number of plants in Vol. 1. Each page of the herbarium has an individual genus or species, such as abrotanum (really Artemisia abrotanum) printed near the spine approximately a third of the way up the page. The upper blank area was reserved for mounting pressed plants. The organization of the pages was alphabetical for different genera or species. A written number is in the upper right corner for each page. The numbering system is a little awkward beyond 100 where subsequent numbers were written as 1011, 1012 and so for 111, 112...
An index is present on the preliminary pages in each volume with an alphabetical listing of genera for medicinal plants within. The first volume covers plants from abrotanum to Lilias phodelus with page number after each listing. The index for the second volume is incomplete, covering plants from Liliastrum to pellandrium and having a blank leaf after the Index page where the additional names would have been written. The missing plants are present on pages beyond pellandrium, starting with phlomis and continuing to turpethum.
Most of the preserved medicinal plants include stems, leaves and flowers. A number also have a portion of the root system still attached. The plants are well preserved and a number retain color in leaves and flowers. The herbarium contains a small number of medicinal ferns. The pages with just plant names most likely are plants that Jeanpierre did not find in the area around Nancy. Item #0000717
This is a unique and rare pre Linnaean herbarium prepared by Sebastien Jeanpierre. It contains 650 names of medicinal plants used by apothecaries in Nancy in the early 18th century. Three hundred and twenty-one (321) of the 650 plants are mounted and preserved specimens that were collected in the region around Nancy, France, from around 1735-1740, with assembly of the herbarium in 1741.
Until Linnaeus introduced the use of single sheets of pressed plants, herbaria were prepared as done here where a bound volume was prepared with preserved plants mounted on individual leaves. These early herbaria were primarily prepared with alphabetical placement of medicinal plants throughout. Preparing herbaria as individual folders using a binomial scheme based on flower characteristics was the genus of Linnaeus. (Arber, A. Herbals... 2nd ed., 1953. pp. 138-143; Radford et al. Vascular Plant Systematics, Chp. 31-The Herbarium; Stern, Wm. 1957 – Introduction in Facsimile of Linnaeus Species Plantarum, 1753)
Sebastien Jeanpierre was an apprentice to the apothecary M. Pierson. At this time in France individuals who wanted to become an apothecary had to obtain training directly from one. The organization of this herbarium followed the practice of putting plants into bound volumes containing leaves with plant names in alphabetical order. M. Pierson himself most likely dictated individual names for medicinal plants that Jeanpierre printed on each page of the hebarium. Medicinal uses written under a number of plants was probably obtained from M. Pierson as well.
Jeanpierre then collected and labeled medicinal plants from the region around Nancy. The name of many of the plants was written on small pieces of paper, which had slits cut to permit insertion of the stem(s). Once the plant was dried and pressed, it was carefully mounted onto the herbarium at the appropriate page, using the labeled piece of paper and small strips of plain paper. A number of these labels, through which plant stems were placed, are in evidence for many of the herbarium specimens.
At the time of the preparation of the herbarium, Nancy was part of Lorraine with a strong French speaking population. There was a keen interest in medicinal plants for preparations to counteract pestilence and disease.
Knowledge of the individual medicinal plants was greatly enhanced by preparing a herbarium such as the present one. Thus, this rare herbarium was a permanent reference for Jeanpierre as he continued his career as an apothecary. It was also a readymade reference for identifying specific plants required for medicinal preparations.
The actual teaching of the medicinal virtues of plants was formalized with the lectures of Antoine de Jussieu in Paris, starting around 1747, at the Museum of Natural History. These lectures were enhanced by direct examination of the plants in the adjacent King’s Garden, the present day Jardin des Plantes.
It is quite remarkable to find a 274 year-old herbarium in this condition with many intact and well-preserved medicinal plants.