SUPERBLY ILLUSTRATED BOTANY

Florum et coronariarum odoratarumque nonnullarum herbarum historia.

Antwerp, ex officina Christophe Plantin, 1569.

£3,250

8vo. pp. 309 (v). Italic letter, little Roman and Greek. Woodcut vignette to t-p, 109 mostly full-page woodcuts of plants, decorated initials and ornaments. A little dust-soiling to outer margin of t-p, faint water stain to upper outer corner of four gatherings. A very good copy in slightly later reversed calf, double gilt (oxidized black) ruled to a panel design, large fleurons to outer corners of centre panel, centrepiece with heart pierced by crossed arrows surmounted by coronet (J.C. de Cordes?), raised bands, loss to foot of spine, upper joint and upper cover. C17 ex-libris of J.C. de Cordes to t-p, library stamp of Lawes Agricultural Trust to front pastedown, title inked to outer fore-edge. In folding box.

This copy probably belonged to Jean Charles de Renialme, called de Cordes, (fl. second half of the C17), lord of ter-Meeren, appointed ‘chevalier’ by Philip IV in 1663 (De Vegiano, ‘Nobiliaire des Pays-Bas’, 38). His father (1575-1641), lord of Wichelen, appears in a portrait made in the 1610s attributed to the workshop of Rubens or even to the young Anthony van Dyck.

 Very good copy of the second Latin edition of this pioneering herbal—one of the many superbly illustrated works produced by the Plantin press in Antwerp. Rembert Dodoens (or Dodonaeus, 1517-85) was a Flemish botanist, court physician to the Emperors Maximilian II and Rudolph II, and professor of medicine at Leiden. He is most renowned for his works on herbs and their medicinal properties published in Dutch, French, English and Latin, inspired by the contemporary writings of Leonhart Fuchs and, ultimately, by Dioscorides’s ‘De materia medica’. This edition was decorated with 109 woodblocks (one more than the first of 1568) designed by Pierre van der Borcht and cut by Arnaud Nicolai and Gerard van Kampen; they were later used in other botanical works produced by the Plantin press. The description of each plant—everyday odorous or ornamental plants like the violet, digitalis, lily, asphodel and the ‘spatula foetida’ (stinking iris)—includes an illustration and examination of its names in different languages, its physical characteristics, any relevant information provided by major sources (e.g., Dioscorides, Pliny, Fuchs or Gesner), its medicinal properties and administration. Together with Dodoens’s other writings on herbs, ‘Historia’ appeared as part of the collection ‘Stirpium historiae pemptadem sex’, published by Plantin in 1583. A little gem in the history of botany.  

BM STC Dutch, p. 63; Brunet II, 786; Thesaurum Literaturae Botanicae, 2656; Voet II, 1098; Wellcome 1819; Ruelens & de Backer, 31. Not in Bibl. Osleriana or Durling.

L2970

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