[click for much larger versions - worth viewing for the detail]
Martinus Houttuyn (1720-1798) was trained in medicine but established his own printing firm in his native Holland to publish natural history books.
In 1773 the first 6 plates of 'Houtkunde'* ['A representation of inland and foreign wood'] were released as an unbound book with hand coloured prints.
Houttuyn combined with the printer JC Sepp and ultimately 106 illustration plates were made and released in book form accompanied by their species and common names in english, dutch, german, french and latin.
In the beginning Houttuyn intended that his 'Houtkunde' should be favoured by keepers of 'wunderkammer', but the title page from a later edition envisioned a wider audience - “‘Houtkunde’ represents inland and foreign wood, used to build houses and ships, as well as for cabinets, tools, paints and also for medicine”. (Houttuyn had included an index in dutch with notes on the origin, use and properties of the specimens depicted)
*'Houtkunde' translates online as 'knowledge' but if any Dutch visitors can confirm it, I'm presuming it also means something like 'forest' or 'woods' - it turned up frequently searching.
"‘Houtkunde’ gives us an impression of the wood collections in cabinets of natural curiosities which, in many cases, have been lost. It is also an important source of information about the knowledge and use of wood in the 18th century. Furthermore, the book helps to decipher the different names often given to a specific type of wood."
- 'Houtkunde' is online in its entirety (including early and late edition changes) at the TU Delft Library in Holland [LINK UPDATED OCT. 2013]. But be warned: all the pages of text are merely photocopies and the plates are enormous (~4Mb each) png files.
- Perhaps a 'modern' equivalent to this 'woodopedia' is the 14 volume series by Romeyn Beck Hough: 'The American Woods', published between 1888 and 1910. It consists of actual crosscuts of 350 tree specimens. The whole series has been digitized by North Carolina State University. The rest of that incredibly fastidious parent History of Forestry website is worthy of a browse; there must be a kitchen sink in there somewhere. [Thanks Tom ('Marxchivist')]