Bradley’s Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature


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Bradley, Richard: A philosophical account of the works of nature. Endeavouring to set forth the several gradations remarkable in the mineral, vegetable, and animal parts of the creation. Tending to the composition of a scale of life. To which is added, an account of the state of gardening, as it is now in Great Britain, and other parts of Europe: together with several new experiments relating to the improvement of barren ground, and the propagating of timber-trees, fruit-trees, &c. With many curious cutts. London: printed for W Mears, 1721.

First edition. 4to. pp. [ii], 194, [xx] + 28 plates engraved by James Cole, one of which is folding, all with original hand colour. Title page printed in red and black. With a list of subscribers – including other distinguished fellows of the Royal Society, such as Richard Bentley, John Evelyn, Sir Isaac Newton (6 copies), Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Christopher Wren – and a final leaf of advertisements for three more of Bradley’s books, published by William Mears.

Bradley was appointed the first professor of botany at the University of Cambridge in 1724, but he largely supported himself through his writing. Mears’ approach to soliciting subscriptions in the press – including offering a seventh copy free to anyone who bought six (Newton, above), recording their names for prosperity in the finished volume and and promising not to print more than were subscribed for – have recently been described by Jeffrey Wigelsworth (Selling Science in the Age of Newton, 2016), using the the present work as an example. The text is wide ranging, dealing with Bradley’s long established interests in agricultural practice and gardening, as well as a coherent attempt to define and describe the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. The plates are suitably varied, from corals and cacti to a comparison between the skeletons of a human and a monkey; in the year of publication James Cole became engraver to the Bank of England. Contemporary panelled calf, neat restoration to headcaps and joints, corners worn. Old ink ownership signature of J Wheeler, and 19th century pencilled note ‘Mr Sneyd-Kynnersley’ to end-papers. ESTC T27550.


Bradley’s Philosophical Account of the Works of Nature


BRADLEY, Richard


COLE, James


MEARS, William

Place of publication


Date of publication



first edition


contemporary calf