VESLING, Johann De plantis Aegyptiis observationes et notae ad Prosperum Alpinum

Padua, Paolo Frambotto, 1638


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. [12], 80. Roman letter, little Greek; printer’s device on title, foliated initials, typographical head- and tail-pieces, numerous detailed botanical woodcut illustrations; head of title lightly browned. A very good, well-margined copy in modern 1/4 calf, marbled boards, gilt title along spine; early red oval stamp of the British Museum on title verso and final recto.

Uncommon first edition of an important commentary on Alpini’s famous botanical book on Egyptian plants, whose second edition supplemented with this piece was published in 1640. Johann Vesling (1598-1649) was a prominent German anatomist and botanist, eventually succeeding Prospero Alpini as head of the botanical garden attached to the university of Padua. Following his medical studies in Leuven and Bologna, he served as personal physician to Alvise Cornaro, the Venetian envoy in Cairo for about four years. In 1633, he returned to Venice as professor of anatomy and surgery at Padua. In Egypt, Vesling studied local flora and fauna, including, most curiously, the development of chickens in artificially hatched eggs. With a great deal of first-hand investigation, he was able to expand significantly with new contents and drawings Alpini’s De plantis Aegyptiis. Each plant is described and named either with its scientific Latin name and Greek correspondent term or, in many causes, with the transliterated Arabic popular denomination. Vesling provides the first two woodcut illustrations of the Egyptian cucumber (Luffa aegyptiaca) and one of the earliest mentions of the habit of adding sugar or candied berries to coffee when building on Alpini’s famous description of the coffee plant and recounting the two or three thousand coffeehouses he saw in Cairo.

Not in BM STC It. 17th, Wellcome, Heirs of Hippocrates, Osler, Brunet or Graesse. Nissen, 2057: Pritzel, 9745;

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