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SILVATICUS, Matthaeus.

COPIOUS PRACTICAL ANNOTATIONS

Opus Pandectarum.

Venice, per Simonem de Luere, 1511

£7,500

Folio. ff. 198. Gothic letter, double column. Decorated initials, printer’s typographical device to last leaf. Finger mark and small marginal ink splash to t-p, another at lower blank gutter of D6-7 and N7, a handful of ll. very lightly browned, minor worming to upper blank gutter of V-Y8, light water stain towards inner margin of last leaf. A very good copy in late C16 (probably Bohemian) pigskin, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with roll of interlacing palmettes, second with blind-stamped full figures of Christ’s baptism, crucifixion and resurrection, and Abraham and Isaac, centre panel with large stamps of (upper board) Jael and Sisera and (lower board) Judith and Holofernes, bordered with roll of tendrils, small heads within roundels and small rosettes in blind, IMVF 1592 gilt above and below, a.e.r., spine, joints, corners and edges repaired, minor loss and a few small worm holes to upper corner. ‘Inferius Littera Scala’ (c.1700) to ffep, rubbed C17 ‘Conf.(?) F Misericordiae Pragensis’, late C16 inscriptions and crossed-out ex-libris ‘Jeremiae Tuschgaei Reichenbach Silesij Phil & Med Doc’ to t-p, copious C16 and C17 Latin, German an Greek annotations in black and green ink. In modern folding box.

A very good, handsomely bound copy of this important medical encyclopaedia. The binding, probably made in Prague, is signed by Meister M.H. (Haebler I, 191), who produced several for books owned by the unidentified IMVF, in the early 1590s (‘Jahresbericht’, 23; ‘Knihtisk’, 125). In the early C17 this copy belonged to Jeremias Tuschga (i.e., Tuschka?), a physician of Czech origins in Reichenbach (Dzierzoniow), Lower Silesia. It was later in the medical library in Prague of the Brothers Hospitallers (Fratres Misericordiae) of St John of God—a religious order first approved by the Pope in 1586 and devoted to hospital care and the nursing of the sick.

‘Pandectarum Medicinae’ was the major work of Matthaeus Silvaticus (1280-1342), professor of medicine and botany at the famous School of Salerno. This encyclopaedia, or pharmacopoeia, was compiled from earlier Greek, Arabic and medieval authorities including Dioscorides, Avicenna and Simon of Genoa. It listed herbs in alphabetical order, using both Latinised and Arabic plant names, followed by instructions on their medical properties, preparation and administration. The careful C16 annotators of this copy were physicians or learned botanists, familiar with Greek, in charge of a ‘garden of simples’. IMVF probably left his books to the Brothers Hospitallers in Prague—most probably the C17 annotators—as another book with the same binding (at the Bayer. Staatsbib.) appears to have a similar rubbed-out ex-libris. They carefully studied the text highlighting the ailments each herb could heal, from dysentery to nose bleeding, abscesses, tooth ache, vomit, fevers, oedema, snake bites and asthma, as well as physical responses they could generate, e.g., the expulsion of the foetus and dyeing hair black. Of special interest was epilepsy, with a note on children’s epilepsy on the t-p. Further notes include the use of dragontea for the plague and bracea soup. An annotator marked as ‘inept’ Silvaticus’s mistaken identification of Ambrosia artemisiifolia with Athanasia, which is instead Ambrosia hispida, and ‘falso’ that gallitricum should cause bleeding. They also added references to Albertus Magnus, Giovanni Manardo (1462-1536), professor of medicine and botany at Ferrara, on the difficult administration of black elleborus, the botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-77) on the use of scabiosa to treat pneumonia, and Arnaldus de Villa Nova (1240-1311), professor of medicine at Montpellier, on the care of herbs.

Only UTMB and NLM copies recorded in the US.

Durling 4206; Panzer VIII, 404, 543; Proctor 12960; Wellcome I, 5972. Knihtisk a kniha v českých zemích (1970); Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Jahresbericht (1996).

L3339