ALBERTUS MAGNUS Liber aggregationis, seu Liber secretorum de virtutibus herbarum, lapidum et animalium

Cologne, Cornelis de Zierikzee, c.1506


Small 4to. 24 unnumbered ll., A 8 B 4 C 8 D 4 . Gothic letter. Two woodcut panels to t-p, handsome, large woodcut printer’s device to verso and verso of last. T-p a little dusty, light marginal foxing or occasional slight water stain, minor marginal repair to B 4 , couple of early marginalia. A very good, well-margined copy in a C13 ms. leaf on vellum (double column, initials and line headings rubricated in red and blue), modern eps, lightly oilstained on lower cover.

Handsomely bound in a C13 ms. leaf, on vellum, with Chapter XXIII of St Matthew’s Gospel.

A very good, well-margined copy of this very rare edition of one of the most influential medieval ‘books of secrets’. Albertus Magnus (1200-80) was a German friar, later canonised, responsible for the establishment of the curriculum studiorum of the Dominicans, including the study of Aristotle. He was also conversant in the natural sciences, philosophy and astrology. After his death, several works on the secrets of nature were attributed to him. The ‘Liber aggregationis’ first reached the press in 1477 after centuries of successful ms. circulation. Its three main works are short handbooks on the natural, medical and occult properties of herbs, stones and animals: i.e., ways of preparing and administering herbs to treat abscesses or chest infections, the use of stones to create a perpetual fire or chase away visions (‘phantasmata’), or the ways in which parts of animals could produce beneficial effects (e.g., wearing a hoopoe’s eyes on one’s chest could pacify friends, keeping its head in one’s purse would make one immune to merchants’ frauds). The fourth work, ‘De mirabilibus mundi’, is concerned with the beneficial exploitation of the wondrous properties of nature to solve everyday problems, from preventing pregnancies by making women drink ram’s urine or hare’s blood to ways of capturing moles—this last of interest to the early annotator of this copy. The last work, ‘Regimen sanitates contra pestilenciam siue epidimiam’, was attributed to the bishop and physician Ranutio; it provides useful suggestions, according to the months and zodiac, to keep a healthy life and avoid epidemics, e.g., avoiding blood-letting in August and, for Pisces, avoiding gout treatment when the moon meets their sign.

LC copy only recorded in the US.ISTC ia00267020; Goff Suppl. A266a; VD16 A1366; GW 657; Schuh, Albertus Magnus 62; NLM 83 (but Goff A267); BM STC Ger., p. 15 (1500 ed.); Index Aureliensis 102496 (but attributes to Cologne, H. Quentel). Ferguson, Wellcome, Osler and Houzeau-Lancaster do not list this edition.
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