Veterinariae medicinae libri II.

Paris, L. Blaublom for S. de Colines 1530.


FIRST EDITION. Folio ff. (xvi) 120. *10, A6, a-p8. Roman letter, ruled in red throughout. Large and fine woodcut on title of a horseman probably Francis I, the dedicatee, against a castle background, probably Pierrefonds, (reproduced in Mortimer and Renouard), beautiful floriated white on black criblé initials in four sizes. Title page a little dusty, very light age yellowing. A fine, well margined copy, crisp and clean in a sumptuous C19th ‘fake’ Pope Paul III (Farnese) binding in the C16th French ‘à la cire’ style, probably by Hague, in dark brown morocco over bevelled wooden boards, covers richly worked in gilt to a panel design, outer panel with a dentelle border infilled with blue yellow and red paint, central panel with strap-work oval around central arms of six fleur de lys, on gold ground, with papal crossed keys gilt above, surrounded with gilt scroll-work with blue painted leaves, red painted corner pieces (inverted on lower cover with red central oval and white corner pieces), elaborate silver metal clasps, catches, and grotesque lion’s head bosses, spine with raised bands gilt ruled in compartments, central fleurons gilt, gilt ruled edges, all edges richly gilt, gauffered, and painted. Joints and headband rubbed.

First edition of Jean Ruel’s translation from the Greek of this important compilation of veterinary texts, the first edition in any language of the oldest known veterinary works. The success of this volume resulted in the Hippiatrica, as they are generally known, being published in the original seven years later. Scholars have generally placed the Hippiatrica in the tenth century, specifically the reign of the emperor Constantine VII (913-959). However, some argue for a late antique date of compilation and a tenth-century revision of the text. This type of excerpt collection, comparable to the Geoponica, offered the advantage of ease of use and made a range of material more accessible: professionals needed easily usable reference works. The text offers precious information on a range of veterinary subjects, especially the materia medica that veterinary writers presumed available to the horse doctor, among them saffron, myrrh, and cassia. Such exotic substances were in common use to treat wounds or to fumigate stalls.

Ruel’s (1424-1537) sometime Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Paris and physician to Francis I, real love was study and in particular the translation of medical works for which he acquired a very considerable reputation. Budeus called him ‘the mastermind of translators’. Ruel’s translation of the present work made available for the first time to the general reading public a collection of the surviving writings of all the Greek veterinary authors of antiquity. The text is preceded by a detailed sixteen page index and a six page glossary of technical terms and definitions. A beautifully printed and important book, in a sumptuous, and remarkably well executed period style binding, redolent of C19th high medievalism.

BM STC Fr. p. 387. Adams V 617. Mortimer, Harvard C16 Fr. Bks. 470. Brun p. 286. Renouard p. 165 “Ce livre est un des plus beaux de ceux qui ont été imprimés par Louis Blaublom”. Osler 3851. Durling 2310. Wellcome 5618.


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