London: Printed by T. Newcomb for S. Thomson, 1655.
Quarto (17 x 11 cm.), 8, 296 pages; signatures: A-Pp4 (incorrectly numbered – skipping J & V – yet complete). Woodcut initials, and section ornaments. “Imprimatur” leaf from the Royal College of Surgeons facing title. ~ FIRST EDITION. A classic work on diet and nutrition, discussing the quality, use, and preparation of fish, fruit, dairy products, bread, meat, and the preparation of drinks. Health’s Improvement was written in the last decade of the 16th century but remained as manuscript notes until publication in 1655 “by T. Newcomb for S. Thomson”. “Mouffet, a successful Elizabethan physician with paracelsian leanings, left a number of unfinished manuscripts at his death in 1604, among them one entitled Health’s Improvement… which was edited in 1655 by his younger colleague Christopher Bennet” (Robb-Smith, “Doctors at Table” cited in Maclean). Bennet died in 1655, and it is unclear if he lived to see this finished book, though he clearly thought highly of Moffett’s work, as he states in his preface, “I may safely say, upon this subject I know of none that hath done better; and were Platina, Apicius, and Alexandrinus, with all the rest of the Dietetick writers now alive, they would certainly own, and highly value this Discourse” (page ). Moffet, whose name is variously spelled (see Maclean), is famous for two books – this one, and his book on insects, Insectorum Sive Minimorum Animalium (London, 1634). He is also known as the father of “Little Miss Muffet” of nursery rhyme fame. ~ Rebound in full brown calf, with raised bands, ruled boards, gilt titling to spine and blind dentelles. Some rubbing to hinges. With the bookplate of the Craig Collection; bookseller ticket of Myers & Co., London to front pastedown. Early ownership signature, “John Firth”, to title page. While readily found in institutional holdings, this is rare in the marketplace. [OCLC records forty-three copies; Wing M2382; ESTC R202888: forty-two copies; Cagle 879; Craig 63; Notaker 539; Oxford, page 27; Pennell, page 133; Schraemli I 361; Simon BG 1063; Vicaire 613].