NutmegGraters.Com

Return To The Previous Page
Move To A Main Page Move to the Site Map
John Gerard
Retru To The Original Page Return To The Original Page Button Of the Nutmeg tree 1636 By Gerard

"1 The round or female Nutmeg."
"2 The longith or male Nutmeg."
" The Nutmeg with his Mace about him."
~ 1636 ~ Gerarde ~ The Herball Or Generall
    Historie of Plantes.

PRINTS: 1.The round or female Nutmeg. / 2.The longith or male Nutmeg. / {3}The Nutmeg with his Mace about him.
TEXT HEADING:   Chap 151.  Of the Nutmeg tree.  (Pages 1536 - 1538). 
SOURCE: The Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes: Gathered by Iohn Gerarde of London Master in
      Chirurgerie very much enlarged and amended by Thomas Iohnson citizen and apothecarye of London. Volume 3.
AUTHOR/CREATOR: John Gerard (Gerarde).
EDITOR (1636 Edition): Thomas Johnson.
PUBLISHER: Adam J Slip, Joice Norton & Richard Whitakers, London.
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1636 Edition.
SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF PUBLICATION: This is a medical herbal text.
PRINT METHOD: Xylography (wood block printing) uncolored. 
PAPER TYPE: Chain Laid Paper without watermarks; sheet size W. 8½" (21.5 cm) x  L. 13¼" (33.5 cm).

HISTORY:
Publishing his first edition in 1597, Joannis Gerarde's (1545~1612) The Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes was a monumental publication having 1484 pages.  Gerarde was appointed to complete the herbal text, after its initial creator, Dr. Robert Priest, died. Later in 1612, while working to expand his work into a much larger second edition of The Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes, Gerarde died. His death required the appointment of Thomas Johnson (Circa 1595~1644) to complete this project and in 1633/1636, the second edition of The Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes was published in two volumes, now containing 1630 pages, plus its 20 page index. 

It is criticized that Gerarde's work was primarily only a translation and combination of two earlier publications by Rembert Dodoen's (1517~1585): Crydeboeck [Histoire Des Plantes], 1554 and Stirpium Historiae Pemptades Sex, 1554.  Further, it is well documented that Gerarde's work reused hundreds of woodblocks from others, including those used in early 16th century works by Dodoens, Fuchs, Brunsels, L'Obel, Mattioli, and Clusius.  The "nutmeg" woodblock engravings featured in Gerarde's first edition of 1597 are different from those used here in this, the second edition of 1636.  Comparing the written content between the two chapters "Of the Nutmeg tree", other than a few text additions to the first paragraph in the second edition, the narrative remains the same between both works.  Each of Gerarde's works are checkered throughout with factual inaccuracies ~ both in accuracy of engravings and within the text information.  This is also clearly evident for the chapters, "Of the Nutmeg tree."  [Both:  1st Ed.: Chap. 145. & 2nd Ed.:  Chap 151.] 

Nux Muscata. L. 570. T. 165. Tom 2 ~ L'Obel ~ 1581INACCURACIES:
Notice at the bottom of page 1536 (SEE: above, left book leaf) that there are two
woodblock images to illustrate branches from nutmeg trees.  Their associated
captions read:  "1. The round or female Nutmeg." and "2. The longith or male
Nutmeg." Both of these images are factually and pictorially incorrect: 
  ~ Image "1." depicts the fully unripened "fruit" and "leaves" from a female
          tree of Nux Moschata (Myristica Moschata); however, these trees
          are ever-bearing throughout each year, and therefore an accurate
          image would also include flowers, developing small fruit, and the fully
          ripened split-open fruit (all being present throughout the entire year).
  ~ Image "2." incorrectly substitutes a "cousin tree": Warb. Myristica argentea
          (also called Macassar nutmeg, Papua(n) nutmeg, silver nutmeg, but
          most commonly known as the "long nutmeg").  Worldwide, there are
          dozens of different myristica species (most non-spice bearing) which are
          dissimilar to the Myristica Moschata.  Although the "long nutmeg" has-
          spice-like properties similar to Myristica Moschata, it is not indigenous to
          the same locations as "Myristica Moschata", it is not of the same shape,
          nor is it as flavorful.  An accurate image for a male Myristica Moschata
          tree is fruitless, but does produce the flowers necessary to cross pollinate
          to the flowers of the female tree, which must occur for any fruit to develop
          upon a female tree. 
A third woodblock images is pictured on page 1537 (SEE:  above, center book
          leaf), and is also shown on page 140 (SEE: image to the right).  These
          images correctly illustrate the varied parts of the nutmeg fruit.  The Gerarde's
          work subtitles it: "The Nutmeg with his Mace about him.", but taken from 
          Matthias de L'Obel earlier works: Plantarum seu Stirpium Historia (1576) and Plantarum seu Stirpium Icones (1581), L'Obel's original title was
          simply "Nux Muscata".  Among all three publications, the same woodblock images are featured, but in the Gerarde rendition there is absence of
          some crucial, identifying text. [For ease in observation, you will notice that NutmegGraters.Com highlighted these words within the L'Obel print,
          encircled in red.] 

Adjacent to L'Obel's illustration is a "long nutmeg" (at the bottom) , where L'Obel identifies it with the words "Mas ob-longior." which translates as "long nutmeg".  L'Obel's works are intended to illustrate the difference between the "round nutmeg" (Myristica Moschata) and the "long nutmeg"  (Warb. Myristica argentea), and to show his readers that these spices are not identical.  While Myristica Moschata originates in the vicinity of the Banda Islands, Warb. Myristica argentea does not.  The "long nutmeg" was commonly traded at Ceylon (now Sri Lanka, the large island off the southern coast of India).  L'Obel includes this information to highlight these as difference spices, and because at this time, there was confusion between the two.  In the 16th century, unscrupulous traders sometimes misrepresented "round nutmegs" by selling "long nutmegs" instead; or, by mixing the less desirable and less valuable "long nutmeg" with the better quality and highly valuable "round nutmeg" ~ all sold to enhance profits from those unknowledgeable about these differences.  Oddly, the 1636 edition of The Herball Or Generall Historie of Plantes omits to differentiate the "round nutmeg" from the "long nutmeg" as featured within L'Obel's original woodblock source ~ thus creating a significant omission, and perpetrating this major inaccuracy to distinguish Nux Moschata (Myristica Moschata) from Warb. Myristica argentea.   

                                                                                                                                                                                  [KLOPFER article © September 2020 ]