Early English viticulture work is toast of auction

One of the earliest works on English viticulture has sold for a total of £11,000 at Chiswick Auctions in London recently.

The specialist Books and Works on Paper sale included one of the few surviving copies of The English Vineyard Vindicated, by John Evelyn and John Rose. Published in 1666, it is thought that most copies perished in The Great Fire of London of the same year. This rare survivor has an ink correction that is made in Evelyn’s own hand.

A surviving copies of 'The English Vineyard Vindicated', by John Evelyn and John Rose

Among the many subjects John Evelyn (1620- 1706) wrote about, horticulture became an increasing obsession. He published several translations of French gardening books, and his Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest Trees (1664) was highly influential in its plea to landowners to plant trees, of which he believed the country to be dangerously short.

Evelyn’s book on viticulture – with the input of ‘Gardner to his Majesty at St James’, the aptly- named John Rose – offers advice on growing vines in the English climate at a time when England was a major consumer of wine but a very minor grower and producer. It included a double-page engraved plate of the ordering and binding of vines. This particular copy included an inkcorrection in the author’s own hand changing the word ‘strong’ on the third line of page 5 to ‘stony’. The same amendment is made to the copy held at Cambridge University Library.

Published for John Crook ‘at the Ship in St. Paul’s Church-Yard’, The English Vineyard
Vindicated was printed some time before September 2-6, 1666 when an inferno destroyed much of medieval London – including the Old St Paul’s Cathedral.

The underbidder and buyer were both UK trade.