VÉLEZ DE ARCIÑEGA, Francisco
Historia de los animales mas recebidos en el uso de MedicinaMadrid, Imprenta Real, 1613
FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. , 454, . Roman letter, little Greek and Italic; printer’s device on title, foliated and grotesque initials, typographical tail-pieces; a few leaves age browned, dampstain to lower gutter and occasionally to margins, clean tear to p. 259. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, faint contemporary title and shelfmark inked on spine; slightly rubbed; pastedown and endpapers from folded leaves of two manuscript religious treatises; late seventeenth-century inscription ‘Marcelo, esclavo de Jesus, Maria y Joseph’ on title; contemporary shared ex libris of three Spanish monks on penultimate verso, a few marginalia by another contemporary and later hands, including juvenile scribbles on verso of final leaf.
Rare first edition of a curious pharmaceutical compendium concerning the use of animal ingredients. Little is known about Francisco Vélez de Arciñega, a respected chemist and writer active between 1593 and 1624. Born and educated in Toledo, he soon moved to Madrid, probably to work for the Spanish court. Although not at the forefront of the scholarly debate, his medical works in Latin and Spanish were widely read in contemporary Spain, especially his translation of the writings of the Syrian physician Mesue the Younger, died 1050. His Historia de los animals provides a colourful insight into the early seventeenth-century Spanish pharmacopeia. It is divided into five books, dealing with quadrupeds, reptiles, birds, fish and shellfish, illustrating how to take advantage of their healing properties with a bizarre mix of scientific intuition, classical mythology and zoology, religious superstition and trivial folklore.
One of the earliest owners of this copy appears to be a triad of monks, who inscribed their names (‘Frater Antonius a Fonte, Frater Ysidorus de Hombrador, Frater Ferdinandus a Casteston’) into a simple circle before the colophon. The monasteries, at this time, were still the principal dispensary of medicine and remedies, especially for the ordinary people of the Catholic world.Rare. Not in Wellcome, Heirs of Hippocrates, Garrison and Morton, Bibliotheca Osleriana. BM STC Sp. 17th, V 339; Graesse, VII, 274 (incorrectly as published in 1615); Palau, 357764.