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Michigan State University

Vibrant Treasures: Botanical Illustrations from the 16th to 20th Centuries: Sweerti & Miller

This guide provides more information about the plant-centric illustrations, herbals and books displayed in the exhibit in the MSU Libraries Murray and Hong Special Collections Reading Room, March-May, 2011.

Sweerti and Miller

These two large and rare items are in the front horizontal case.

Florilegium Emanvelis Sweerti septimon ti bataviamsteledami comorantis tractans de variis florib[us] et aliis indicis plâtis ad vivum delineatvm in dvabvs partib[us] et qvator lingvis concinnatvm ... Prostat venalt. vna cvm florib[us] et plantis ipsis, apvd ipsvm avtorem. Emanuel Sweert, b. 1552. Francofurti ad Moenum, impressum apud Anthonium Kempner sumptib[us] autoris, 1612.

Emanual Sweert was a Dutch florist who at one time was prefect of gardens for Emperor Rudolf II. This work is a picture book of plants which served as an unpriced catalogue of plants and bulbs for sale at the author’s shop at the Frankfurt Fair and afterwards in Amsterdam. Later editions were published as true florilegia for both scientists and gardeners. It is said that his handsome renderings of bulbs contributed to the European cultural and economic phenomenon known as “Tulipomania.”


Figures of the most beautiful, useful, and uncommon plants described in the Gardeners dictionary, exhibited on three hundred copper plates, accurately engraven after drawings taken from nature. With the characters of their flowers and seed-vessels, drawn when they were in their greatest perfection. To which are added, their descriptions, and an account of the classes to which they belong, according to Ray’s, Tournefort’s, and Linnæus’s method of classing them.  Philip Miller, 1691-1771. London, Printed for the author; and sold by J. Rivington, 1760.

For nearly fifty years Philip Miller was the chief gardener at the Chelsea Physick Garden in London and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his extensive knowledge of plants. In his Miller’s Gardeners Dictionary and Figures…he recorded his success in enriching this garden used to train medical apprenticies in identifying plants. He was considered a “Gardener to the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries.” This beautiful and rare work proves this to be true even today.

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