Plate 6 from Nova Reperta
by Johannes Stradanus

Good English Cider


Little is known about John Worlidge beyond the books he wrote on agricultural reform, including horticulture, beekeeping, and cidermaking. Beginning with Systema Agriculturae: The mystery of husbandry discovered (first published in 1669), many of his titles were republished several times each, and in most cases by bookseller Thomas Dring. Vinetum Britannicum, for instance, was published in three editions within fifteen years; the 1678 edition depicted here is the second. This copy is bound with Worlidge's Apiarium; or A Discourse of the Government and Ordering of Bees. Each treatise has its own copper-engraved frontispiece (as announced on the titlepage), and allClick Here for a Larger View are separately paginated. But the catch word on the last page of Vinetum is "Apia," indicating an intentional pairing, and the two alphabetical subject indexes are printed together. Further, the dates of publication for Apiarium are exactly coincident with the dates of publication for Vinetum. The dedication to Elias Ashmole (1617-1692), the antiquarian, and the elaborate frontispiece engravings seem to target the treatises on agricultural improvements for an upscale market.

In his title and preface, Worlidge informs us that cider ought to be the preferred drink of the English. The text, peppered with jingoistic rhetoric, is intended to instruct the English gentleman farmer about cider production and its virtues as good English drink. The frontispiece, opposite the title page, illustrates the topics that are identified as important in the text; namely, the propagation of fruit, the manufacture of cider from that fruit, and its intended audience. The etching, arranged in two registers, shows the "new-invented ingenio" and the press at work. The image of the ingenio dominates the pictorial space in the upper register. To its left is an image of an apple tree and to the right a bushel of apples. The three images function together to illustrate the propagation of the fruit, picking the fruit, and grinding the apples. The narrative continues in the lower register. An image of the working cider press dominates. To its left we see a barrel. Its spout is open and cider is pouring into a bucket. To the right, in the background, an image of a house directs our attention to the intended destination for the product, the British home.

James McManus
California State University, Chico

Suggested Reading

Fussell, G.E. The Old English Farming Books from Fitzherbert to Tull. London: Crosby Lockwood & Son, 1947.

Caton, Mary Ann, ed. Fooles and Fricassees: Food in Shakespeare's England. Seattle: Washington University Press, 1999.

McRrae, Andrew. God Speed the Plough: The Representation of Agrarian England, 1500-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Thirsk, Joan. The Rural Economy of England. London: Hambledon Press, 1984.