This post was first featured on the Biodiversity Heritage Library blog.
It is a small book, palm-size, with pages of less-than-fine paper, the well-worn letters of the type sometimes carelessly inked. The sparse woodcut illustrations are child-like in their simplicity and straight-forwardness. Yet John Josselyn’s New-Englands rarities discovered, printed in London in 1672, drew me in as I went about cataloging the work. Intrigued by the title and the early date of publication, I found myself reading an account of the landscape of my past, from Boston, “down east” (that is, up the coast as represented in the illustration above) to my place of birth, and points all around. That great bibliography, The Hunt Botanical Catalogue, notes that this book is “particularly interesting to people who are fond of Maine.” Indeed. The text provides a sense of place from the 17th century.