Naturalis Historiae. [with] Index in […] Naturalem Historiam.

Venice, apud Paulum Manutium, 1559, 1558.


Folio. 2 parts in 1, separate t-ps, ff. (xxviii) 976 columns [pp. 488], 36 unnumbered pp.; 66 unnumbered ff., A⁶ B⁸ a-z⁶ ²A-²B⁶ C-R⁶ S⁴ 3a-3c⁶ A-L⁶. Italic letter with Roman, mostly double column. Woodcut printer’s device to t-ps, decorated initials. A little finger-soiling or slight marginal spotting to t-p and first leaf, slightly adhering at gutter, a handful of ll. somewhat foxed, occasional mostly marginal spotting, small light water stain to few margins and towards gutter of last leaf, small worm trail repaired to lower blank margin of final gathering. A very good, large copy, most edges untrimmed, in C18 straight-grained morocco, arabesque and feather tool gilt ruling, later gilt composite centrepieces, rebacked in calf c.1800, gilt-lettered morocco label, rubbed. Early ms. ex-libris ‘Alberti de Albertis Tusculanensis’ to t-p, C16 ms. monogram PA within lozenge to verso of last, C17 marginal note.

A very good copy of this Aldine edition of Pliny’s monument, revised by Paulus Manutius after his 1535-36 and 1540 editions; the index based on that of 1538. Pliny the Elder (23-79AD) was an administrator for Emperor Vespasian and a prolific author. The ‘Historia’ is a masterful encyclopaedia of theoretical and applied natural sciences detailing all that was known in these fields in the first century AD. Based on hundreds of Greek and Latin sources clearly marked in this edition, its ten books introduce the reader to astronomical questions like the nature of the moon and its distance from the earth; pharmacopoeia, ointments and herbal remedies; natural phenomena including rains of stones; world geography and the ethnographic study of remote ‘gentes mirabiles’; descriptions of all animal and tree species, wild and domesticated; horticulture from cultivation to the treatment of plant mutations and illnesses; metals and gold mining; mineralogy and pigments for painting.

Thanks to a wide and intense manuscript circulation, ‘the “Historia” soon became a standard book of reference: abstracts and abridgements appeared by the third century. Bede owned a copy, Alcuin sent the early books to Charlemagne […]. It was the basis of Isidore’s “Etymologiae” and such medieval encyclopaedias as the “Speculum Majus” of Vincent of Beauvais’ (PMM 5). Renaissance humanists considered the ‘Historia’ a mine of ancient knowledge.

The early annotator of this copy glossed a section on exotic animals in India and Africa—including the ‘catoblepas’, first described by Pliny—by adding a reference to an animal missing, in his opinion, from the list: the ‘camelopardalis’ (i.e., giraffe). He cross-referenced the section from Dominicus’s ‘Polyanthea’ (1503) which discusses the ‘unequal’ composition of the ‘camelopardalis’, with a horse’s neck, bovine hooves, etc. The early ownership can be traced to Frascati (Tusculanum), in the outskirts of Rome.

Brunet IV, 716; Renouard 177:2; Ahmanson-Murphy 575.


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DODOENS, Rembert


Florum et coronariarum odoratarumque nonnullarum herbarum historia.

Antwerp, ex officina Christophe Plantin, 1569.


8vo. pp. 309 (v). Italic letter, little Roman and Greek. Woodcut vignette to t-p, 109 mostly full-page woodcuts of plants, decorated initials and ornaments. A little dust-soiling to outer margin of t-p, faint water stain to upper outer corner of four gatherings. A very good copy in slightly later reversed calf, double gilt (oxidized black) ruled to a panel design, large fleurons to outer corners of centre panel, centrepiece with heart pierced by crossed arrows surmounted by coronet (J.C. de Cordes?), raised bands, loss to foot of spine, upper joint and upper cover. C17 ex-libris of J.C. de Cordes to t-p, library stamp of Lawes Agricultural Trust to front pastedown, title inked to outer fore-edge. In folding box.

This copy probably belonged to Jean Charles de Renialme, called de Cordes, (fl. second half of the C17), lord of ter-Meeren, appointed ‘chevalier’ by Philip IV in 1663 (De Vegiano, ‘Nobiliaire des Pays-Bas’, 38). His father (1575-1641), lord of Wichelen, appears in a portrait made in the 1610s attributed to the workshop of Rubens or even to the young Anthony van Dyck.

Very good copy of the second Latin edition of this pioneering herbal—one of the many superbly illustrated works produced by the Plantin press in Antwerp. Rembert Dodoens (or Dodonaeus, 1517-85) was a Flemish botanist, court physician to the Emperors Maximilian II and Rudolph II, and professor of medicine at Leiden. He is most renowned for his works on herbs and their medicinal properties published in Dutch, French, English and Latin, inspired by the contemporary writings of Leonhart Fuchs and, ultimately, by Dioscorides’s ‘De materia medica’. This edition was decorated with 109 woodblocks (one more than the first of 1568) designed by Pierre van der Borcht and cut by Arnaud Nicolai and Gerard van Kampen; they were later used in other botanical works produced by the Plantin press. The description of each plant—everyday odorous or ornamental plants like the violet, digitalis, lily, asphodel and the ‘spatula foetida’ (stinking iris)—includes an illustration and examination of its names in different languages, its physical characteristics, any relevant information provided by major sources (e.g., Dioscorides, Pliny, Fuchs or Gesner), its medicinal properties and administration. Together with Dodoens’s other writings on herbs, ‘Historia’ appeared as part of the collection ‘Stirpium historiae pemptadem sex’, published by Plantin in 1583. A little gem in the history of botany.  

BM STC Dutch, p. 63; Brunet II, 786; Thesaurum Literaturae Botanicae, 2656; Voet II, 1098; Wellcome 1819; Ruelens & de Backer, 31. Not in Bibl. Osleriana or Durling.


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Theatrum Botanicum or the Theater of plantes.

London, printed by Tho. Cotes, 1640.


FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [xx] 1652, 1663-1755, [iii]. [[A]⁶, (a)⁴, B-4L⁶, 4M⁴, 4N-7I⁶.] Roman letter, some Italic. Magnificent full page eng. title by Marshall (Johnson 77), (here placed as frontispiece) upper compartment comprising two landscape scenes with allegorical female figures representing Asia and Europe (mounted on a rhinoceros and drawn in a chariot respectively) surrounded by their local fruits and flora, full length portraits of Adam (with spade) and Solomon, lower compartment with medallion portrait of the author flanked by allegorical figures of Africa and the Americas (mounted on a zebra and lama respectively) surrounded by cactii, palms etc, printed title within box rule, more than 2700 woodcuts of plants, floriated woodcut initials, grotesque woodcut head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments. Autograph of Jo. Hyphantes (John Weaver?) in a near contemporary hand on printed t-p., early autograph at head of engraved t-p of Robert Parker, just trimmed, Samuel Hadfield dated 1812 on fly, Sotherans’ label on pastedown, engraved label ‘Old Hall’ below (probably Mottram Old Hall in Longdendale). Light age yellowing, eng. and printed titles fractionally dusty, blank outer edge of eng. t-p slightly frayed, very light minor waterstaining to a few leaves, B1 slightly soiled in upper margins, the occasional ink splash and marginal mark. A good copy, crisp and clean, in dark red morocco over thick boards c.1800, covers bordered with a double blind rule with dentelle roll, spine gilt ruled in compartments, large stag gilt in lower compartment, edges gilt ruled, spine a little cracked, a little rubbed at extremities.

First edition of the most comprehensive of the early English herbals comprising nearly 4000 plant descriptions, almost 1000 more than were in Johnson’s edition of Gerard, its nearest rival. It remained the most complete English herbal until the time of Ray (who constantly refers to it). Herbalist to King Charles I, John Parkinson (1567–1650) was a master apothecary, herbalist, and gardener. Already celebrated in his lifetime for his publication of the beautiful ‘Paradisi in sole paradisus terrestris’, 1629, this, his magnum opus, the Theatrum Botanicum, was published in 1640 and ran to 1,766 folio pages. The sheer scope and size was perhaps to prove the book’s downfall, because, while it was much revered, and plagiarised, it was never reprinted, and has become a rare and much sought after work. Parkinson was writing at a time when Western herbalism was at its zenith, and his skills as a gardener (from his grounds in Covent Garden) combined perfectly with his passion for science, observation, and historical scholarship. He divides his work into 17 parts each dealing with a specific variety of plants usually classified according to their properties, sweet smelling, purging, but sometimes more generally e.g. marsh water and sea, thistles and thorny, and the splendid ‘strange and outlandish’ and ‘venomous, sleepy and hurtful plants’; this together with both English and Latin indexes and a ‘Table of Vertues’ make this monumental volume surprisingly user friendly.

Parkinson (1567-1650) was an accomplished practical gardener and apothecary, amongst others to James I, and appointed by Charles I “Botanicus Primarius” of the Kingdom. Although he incorporated almost the whole of Bauhin’s Pinax and the unpublished material left by L’Obel at his death, many of the descriptions are new – indeed the work is much more original than than Gerard’s and Johnson’s. It contains the names of 28 species not previously recorded, in Britain alone, and even of well known plants many of Parkinson’s descriptions are his own. He added a fund of curious and out of the way information which is one of the great sources of interest, sometimes credulous but often inspired. “In (the Theatrum) Parkinson borrowed from the whole range of writings on materia medica, adding his own considerable knowledge as horticulturist and apothecary, to produce one of the great repositories of herbal literature. His references to older authors and his quotations from them make the Theatrum a virtual one-volume herbal library. Should all the other herbals be lost, future generations could still sample most of their lore and language through Parkinson.” Frank J. Anderson ‘An Illustrated History of the Herbals’. Parkinson was also punctiliously accurate as to localities and is invaluable as to beauty and cosmetic recipes, of which he includes far more than any other herbalist.

ESTC S121875. STC 19302. Lowndes V 1780 “A work of merit.  It contains a great variety of articles not to be found in any of the botanical writers who went before him – Granger”. Henrey pp79-82. Rhode pp151-162. Arber pp115-6. Hunt 235.  Pritzel 7749. Nissen 1490. Arents 212. Alden 640/143. Bitting p356 “The herbal also brought together what was known about food producing plants”. 


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[F., N.]

The husbandmans fruitfull orchard. Shewing diuers rare new secrets for the true ordering of all sortes of fruite in their due seasons. ..

London : Imprinted [by R. Bradock] for Roger Iackson, 1608.


4to. pp. [iv], 28. Black letter, some Roman and Italic. Historiated woodcut initials, woodcut headpieces, Cornelius J. Hauck’s bookplate on pastedown, bibliographical note (concerning the rarity of this edition) tipped on fly. Title-page and last leaf a little soiled and damp stained, headline fractionally shaved in the Epistle to the Reader, light age yellowing, the occasional mark or spot. A good copy in modern half calf over marbled paper boards.

The exceptionally rare 1608 reissue of ‘The Fruiterers Secrets’ first published in 1604, located by ESTC in one other copy only, at the British Library, with the dedication cancelled and with a cancel title-page. This copy has the title-page corrected to read “rare” for “care” (this is uncorrected in some copies, see STC). The work is a wonderfully written and most practical handbook on the gathering, picking, sorting and storing of various fruits, including cherries, apples, pears and quinces, and by extension the work also gives a most interesting insight into the flourishing fruit trade that took place in late Elizabethan England, particularly around London. The author, the unidentified ’N.F.’, gives an interesting account in his preface of the importation of grafts brought from France and the Netherlands, that helped to develop English fruit trees (“especially pippins; before which time there was no right pippins in England”) by Richard Harris, who was fruiterer to Henry VIII. Harris created a fruit orchard at Tenham in Kent on the King’s ground using these foreign grafts. The author describes this orchard as “the chiefe Mother of all other orchards for those kindes of fruites in Kent, and of divers other places. And afore that these said grafts were fetched out of Fraunce, and the Lowe Countries, although there was some store of fruite in England, yet there wanted both rare fruite, and lasting fine fruit.”

The work deals in turn with cherries, (“foure sorts here in England – flemish cherries, English cherries, Gascoyne cherries and blacke cherries.”), all other stone fruit (apricots peaches, plums damsons etc), pears, apples, wardens, and quinces. The author was clearly a ‘fruiterer’ in that he gives detailed instructions as to the various methods of storing each fruit, and how to transport fruit by waterways. Most of the work concerns picking and storing but it also gives advice on the growing of fruit trees, particularly the placement of trees and the soil in which certain trees will produce better fruit. His principal concern however was that once “the great paines that have been taken, in planting, setting, grafting, & proyning, whereby a great deal of ground hath been taken up, which might serve for other good purposes, I thought good to shew what course might bee taken, that means Labours be not lost, nor such great quantity of ground wherin fruit doth growe, lye in waste (as it were) and become unprofitable, through ignorance of well handling the fruite, after God hath given it.”

An exceptionally rare edition of this very charming work.

ESTC S119936. (one copy only). STC 10651. Not in Lowndes.


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[Complete Works].

Bologna, Nicola Tebaldino & Clemente e Giovanni Battista Ferroni per Marco Antonio Bernia, 1640-1652, 1668.


13 volumes, fol.: 1): pp. [4], 893, [57], without final blank; 2): pp. [6], 862, [62], without final blank; 3): pp. [10], 560, [24]; 4): pp. [10], 767, [45]; 5): pp. [6], 593, [29]; 6): pp. [6], 732, [28], without final blank; 7): pp. [6], 495, [29]; 8): pp. [6], 1040, [12]; 9): pp. [4], 718, [16]; 10): FIRST EDITION: pp. [6], 427, [29]; 11): FIRST EDITION: pp. [8], 748, [28], 159, [9], without final blank; 12): FIRST EDITION: pp. [8], 979, [13]; 13): FIRST EDITION, second issue: pp. [12], 660, [52]. Predominantly Roman letter, little Italic and Greek; engraved architectural and allegorical titles by G. B. Coriolano, G. B. Cavazza, A. Salmicius and L. Tinti, all featuring the dedicatees’ coat of arms and, occasionally, oval portraits; numerous historiated or floriated initials and decorative or typographical head- and tail-pieces, over 2500 woodcut illustrations of animals, plants and gems in text, full- or double-pages; printers’ device on most final or penultimate leaves; occasionally light foxing, mostly in margins, a few leaves age yellowed; small marginal waterstains in places in vols 4, 6-8, 10 and 13, tiny wormholes at foot of first gathering in vol. 1, couple of ink spots, mainly on blanks, to title of vol. 5, first loosening gatherings in vol. 11, worn lower margin of last three leaves in vol. 13. Fine uniform set of good, well-margined copies in contemporary mottled calf, darker in vol. 13, consistently gilt with double-filled border, spine charmingly gilt with elaborate floriated decoration and title directly lettered on one or two of the seven compartments; a. e. sprinkled; minor old repairs to head and tail of most spines, light scratching and rubbing occasionally on covers, a few tiny wormholes on vol. 12, some corners and edges very slightly bumped; contemporary autograph of ‘Le Vignon’ inscribed on all titles but in vol. 13, with variant ‘Le Vignon m. Par.’ in vol. 11; bookcase number ‘97’ in his hand consistently at foot of each front pastedowns, his price note ‘Emputs 220 ff.’ at head of title in vol. 10.

Exquisite complete set, bound in contemporary France, of the massive corpus of Aldrovandi’s scientific works, the last four in the first edition, the remainders in the most accurate editions published in Bologna by Ferroni and Tebaldino in the mid-seventeenth century. Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) is regarded as the father of modern natural history due to his pivotal contribution to zoology, botany and geology. An erudite scholar of wide-ranging interests, he was the first professor of natural science at Bologna university. There, he established a renowned botanical garden and gathered a steady amount of specimens and detailed drawings of faunal and floral rarities in his private museum. Everything was later bequeathed to the City Senate. The majority of his extensive scientific essays was published posthumously by his pupils with the support of the Bolognese Commune. This set embraces all his body of work, comprising: the three famous volumes on birds; the single tomes on insects, crustaceans & shellfish, fish & cetaceans; the ground-breaking investigation of quadrupeds spread over three volumes; the two fascinating works on reptiles (including dragons) and on any sort of monsters; the rare treatise on metals; the late survey on trees. Vol. 5 (De animalibus exanguibus) retains the initial dedication to the Bolognese senators; vol. 11 (Monstruorum Historia) has the Paralipomena, often missing; vol. 13 (Dendrologia) exceptionally bears the frontispiece with the crude printed title. All volumes are extensively illustrated, often providing the first depiction of a rare animal, plant or stone from Africa, Asia and Americas. Amongst the editors of the vast collection was the Scottish scholar Thomas Dampster (1579-1625), at the time professor of humanities at the University of Bologna.

This extraordinary set was put together in the 1650s by a wealthy French collector who marked every volumes with the number 97 and signed each title but that of vol. 13 as ‘Le Vignon’. In vol. 11, he adds to his surname ‘m. par.’, which should be intended as ‘medicus Parisiensis’. This helps to identify the owner as the physician François Le Vignon, dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Paris as well as personal physician of the Duchesse of Lorraine since 1656 and of the Swiss Guards of Louis XIV, died 1675. Le Vignon must have commissioned the binding of the first 12 volumes soon after 1652, i. e. the year of the latest imprint. Although the calf employed is darker and somewhat less luxurious, the binding of the 13th one, published in 1668, was worked at a later stage by the same binder, as the gilt decoration of the spine makes clear.

1-3) Ornithologiae, 1652: Not in Nissen, Zoologische. BM STC 17th It., 16 (only 2 and 3); Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 189 (vol. 2 only); Wellcome, I, 172.

4) De animalibus insectis, 1644:  Not in BM STC 17th It. or Wellcome. Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 180; Nissen, Zoologische, 66.

5) De reliquis animalibus exanguibus, 1642: BM STC 17th It., 15; Graesse, I, 65; Nissen, Zoologische, 68; Wellcome, I, 172.

6) De piscibus … et de cetis, 1644: BM STC 17th It., 14-15; Graesse, I, 65; Nissen, Zoologische, 70; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 644/5.

7) De quadrapedibus solidipedibus, 1648: Not in BM STC 17th It. or Wellcome. Graesse, I, 65; Nissen, Zoologische, 72.

8) Quadrupedum omnium bisulcorum, 1641-1642: Not in BM STC 17th It. or Wellcome. Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 190 (imperfect); Nissen, Zoologische, 76; Alden, 642/3.

9) De quadrupedibus digitatis viviparis, 1645: Not in BM STC 17th It. Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 183; Nissen, Zoologische, 77; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 645/1.

10) Serpentum, et draconum historiae, 1640: BM STC 17th It., 16; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 191; Nissen, Zoologische, 78; Wellcome, I, 172.

11) Monstrorum historia, 1642: BM STC 17th It., 15; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 187; Nissen, Zoologische, 74; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 642/2.

12) Musaeum metallicum, 1648: BM STC 17th It., 16; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 188 (imperfect); Nissen, Zoologische, 75; Wellcome, I, 172; Alden, 648/5.

13) Dendrologiae, 1667-1668: BM STC 17th It., 15; Brunet, I, 156; Graesse, I, 65; Krivatsy, 186; Nissen, Botanische, 14; Wellcome, I, 172.



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Seminarium, et plantarium fructiferarum praesertim arborum quae post hortos conseri solent.

Paris, Robert Estienne, 1540.


8vo, pp. 193, [23]. Roman letter, little Greek; printer’s device on title; a few tiny ink spots on blank outer margin of title, occasional spotting, very light waterstains to inner lower corner in second half. A very good copy in seventeenth-century vellum, recased, a. e. sprinkled; very lightly stained; faint contemporary marginal annotation in Latin on p. 61.

Second expanded edition of a curious encyclopaedia of fruit-trees illustrating nomenclature and cultivation, first published in 1536. Second son of Henri Estienne, the famous humanist printer and founder of the Estienne family press, Charles (1504-1564) was a pioneer in French anatomy and a respected Latin scholar. He published influential anatomical treatises and Latin textbooks, though he also contributed to agronomy and descriptions of rural life. Relying on ancient as well as contemporary sources, Seminarium et planetarium is particularly valuable for its account of the different types of apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, figs, nuts, citruses, olives and other fruits. For instance, it records for the first time the Martin Sec pear as a autochthonous species of France. The second part of the book dwells on sawing, pruning, transplantation, extirpation and general maintenance of plants. One can find guidelines for olive oil extraction, occasional reference to vines and vineyard management and, most curiously, the recipe for pear wine as prepared in antiquity. The work was published by Charles’s brother, Robert, who was at the time the Royal Printer for Hebrew and Latin publications, as he proudly pointed out on the colophon. When Robert fled to Geneva because of his Calvinist belief in 1551, Charles, who remained Catholic, took over the management of the Parisian Estienne workshop for a decade.

BM STC Fr., 156; Adams, S 1743; Renouard, 49:3; Schreiber, 61; Oberlé, 682 (1545 ed.); Simon, II, 231 (Lyon 1537 reprint).



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PASSE, Crispijn van de


Hortus floridus. A garden of flovvers, vvherein very liuely is contained a true and perfect discription of al the flovvers contained in these foure followinge bookes.

Utrecht, By Salomon de Roy, for Crispian de Passe, 1615.


FIRST EDITION thus. Oblong folio. Five parts in one volume. 1) ff.  (vii) [(-)1, A-C2], forty three plates of flowers, one of garden scene and one of ‘Epigramma’. 2) ff. (ii) [D1-2], one plate of garden scene, 20 plates of flowers. 3) ff. (iii) [E1-2, F1], twenty eight plates of flowers. 4) ff. (ii) [F2, G1], twelve plates of flowers. 5) ff. (ii) (title and engraved title), sixty one plates of flowers with explanatory text on versos, ff. (i) [G2]. Book one extra illustrated with two additional plates after plate 41, “Bulbus Narcisci marini” and “Radix Cyclamini.” Book three with plate seventeen from the latin version, text on verso, bound out of order, plate 24 re-margined (book four has a fine extra plate 24), extra illustrated with plates 7 and 12 from the winter section, and plate 1 of winter section bound at end. Book four with plates out of order (with plate 1 at end of book 3), extra illustrated with plate 24 from book three, plate 7 from latin edition with text on verso (the correct version is added in book 3). Roman and Italic letter. Text to Parts I-IV in English, text to Altera Pars in Latin. Additional engraved title in Latin tipped in, dated 1614, with mythical figures to sides, portraits in roundels of Dodoens and Clusius, verso of general typographic title with ‘The Book to his Readers’ within typographical border, final leaf G2r within typographical border, Altera pars with letterpress and engraved architectural title with vases of flower to the sides and explanatory text to plates I and II on verso, large historiated, white on black and floriated woodcut initials in explanatory text in Altera pars, ink ownership inscription on plate 7 in part II, “Watts Gardener to his Majesty,” most probably Richard Watts, gardener to Prince George of Denmark at Camden House, St. James’s Palace and Windsor, c. 1700 – 1703, monogram in red crayon on title. Light age yellowing, some light soiling and creasing, small tear in lower blank margin of plate 16 in book two just entering plate, a few very short marginal nicks and chips, early ink pen trials to a couple of plates, mostly confined to margins but some into plate area, plates in parts I-II numbered in ink manuscript both in margins and within plate. A lovely copy with the plates in very fine, rich, and detailed impressions remarkably preserved in contemporary English limp vellum, contained in a modern morocco-backed box by Laurenchet, rubbed, and a bit soiled and creased.

The very rare first English edition of the wonderfully illustrated Hortus Floridus, complete with the rare addition of the Altera pars, and all the plates called for in the contents; it “was without question the most popular florilegium ever published,” An Oak Spring Flora. The first edition appeared in 1614 in Latin and proved so popular that it was almost immediately followed by French, Dutch, and English editions. The introduction is enlarged with details on how to colour the plates. One of the earliest florilegia, the Hortus Floridus contains very fine realistic and delicate prints created by Crispin van de Passe, a member of a famous family of Dutch artists.

The book is divided into four sections, each corresponding with one of the seasons and prefaced with an engraving of a model garden. Most of the flowers shown are tulips, hyacinths, crocuses and other bulb plants, the new enthusiasm of the increasingly prosperous Dutch citizenry. Van de Passe’s work both documented and stimulated the Dutch passion for bulbs, which eventually led to the ‘tulipomania’ of 1636 – 1637, when speculation in tulip bulbs led to a financial crash.

Unlike earlier botanical works in which the plants were shown by themselves, van de Passe placed his specimens in a natural environment, often accompanied by insects and animals that provide a narrative element to the images. The ground level perspective of the illustrations reflects the tradition of Dutch landscape painting, characterized by atmospheric and panoramic views of the flat Dutch landscape set against a low horizon, and dominated by a vast and expansive sky. The first four parts include 106 plates by Crispin De Passe, the flowers being classified per season rather than per species.

“The plates are landscapes in miniature, embellished with animals and insects, and with the plants shown growing from the ground with a vigorous naturalism. The emphasis of the publication is on the common garden flowers, with a preponderance of spring bulbs.” Gill Saunders.

These engravings cannot be seen as solely botanical illustrations, as they also echo the artistic grammar of contemporary Flemish and Dutch painting. The following fifth part includes 61 plates featuring 120 numbered fruit trees and medical plants. According to Franken, these last series were executed by a German engraver rather than by a member of the De Passe family. The quality of the engraving is exceptionally fine and delicate and where they are preserved in fine impressions, as here, are masterpieces of horticultural art.

“By uniting scientific illustration and the genre of the still-life in Hortus Floridus, van de Passe made available a precious repertory of floral images for artists such as van der Ast, Ambrosius Bosschaert and Roelandt Savery. Some of the plates of single flowers were copied for other botanical works.” Oak Spring Flora, 12. A wonderful copy, with the plates in very fine impression, of the exceptionally rare English edition in contemporary limp vellum.

STC 19459. ESTC S110319. Oak Spring Flora, 12 .Saunders, Picturing Plants, 36-37; Nissen BBI 1494. Hunt 199; Savage, ‘The Hortus Floridus’, Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, Second Series, vol. IV, (1923) pp.181-205.


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Herbolario volgare

Venice, Giovanni Andrea Valvassori and brothers, 1534.


8vo, 180 leaves, a6, A-X8, Y6 (Yiii and conjugate leaf misbound at the beginning after aaiii, aaii after aaiii). Roman letter; decorated initials, large vignette representing Saints Cosmas and Damian on title, woodcut of Virgin and Child on aaviv, 151 3/4-page illustrations, large printer’s device on final leaf recto; three tiny marginal wormholes to title and first two leaves, small largely interlinear worm trail to final four, clean marginal tear to Yv. A very good copy in contemporary light-brown calf, blind-tooled uncommonly silvered including title on upper cover, double-fillet, roll of fleurons, central panel with keys and crowns (heraldic symbols?) and corner and central floral Arabesque; probably by a provincial workshop of Northern Italy; all edges gauffered gilt; skilfully re-backed, upper corners chipped, three wormholes to front cover, small worm trail to rear.

Very rare complete copy of the first issue (27 July 1534) of the second Italian vernacular edition of the Latin Herbarius. Another issue appeared on 15 November of the same year. The more common first Italian translation was published as a quarto in 1522, whilst this and the subsequent Venetian editions are octavos, apparently designed to accommodate the needs of a wider and less educated readership. ‘The Herbarius … was anonymous, a compilation from medieval writers and from certain classical and Arabian authors, the latter doubtless quoted from translations… It was intended to treat of cheap and homely remedies for the use of the poor, such as could be found in the woods and meadows’ (Hunt).

Like the Herbarius, the text is here arranged alphabetically depending on plants’ names, thus the order differs slightly from that of the original Latin. This edition has a new vernacular translation, interestingly including several linguistic elements typical of Northern Italian dialects, especially those around Venice. It is also the first to be illustrated with a different series of woodcuts, based on the Hortus Sanitatis wooblocks. Chapter 89, usually tackling the Matricaria, is here devoted to honey, while a new chapter numbered 151, on wine and vinegar, has been added. Both these two variations were provided with their own special illustrations, namely honeybees and a wine cellar. The remaining 149 woodcuts all depict plants, herbs and roots, showing in two cases a simple countryside background. The charming Virgin and Child illustration is copied from the Venice 1492 Decameron.

All these popular Italian herbals are very uncommon, but this edition in its first issue stands out for its exceeding rarity. It is quite remarkable that such a popular book was bound so richly.

Only one perfect copy recorded in Italy (Salerno, private collection), possibly another defective in Oxford and in the US (Cincinnati). Not in BM STC It., Adams, Brunet, Graesse, Durling nor Wellcome. EDIT16, 76427; Hunt, 34; Klebs, 16 (no distinction between the two issues); Nissen, BBI 34.


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FUCHS, Leonhard


New Kreüterbuch.

Basel, Michael Isingrin, 1543.


Folio, 444 leaves, +-++6, +++4, a-z6, A-Z6, Aa-Zz6, AA6, BB8. Gothic letter; woodcut printer’s device on title and larger on final recto, full-page full length portrait of Fuchs on title verso, 517 botanical woodcuts (15 with old hand-colouring) by Viet Rudolph Speckle after Heinrich Füllmaurer and Albert Meyer, portraits of the three artists at end; historiated initials; light water stains and finger marking to some margins at beginning and end, small marginal flaw to ff. Ff4-Gg4, barely touching one illustration. A very good copy, partially hand-coloured in the printing shop, in contemporary pigskin over thick-wooden boards, blind-tooled, triple fillet; rolls of interlacing floral decorations, medallions, antiques, grape and vine leaves, central panel with flower bunches to corner and centre; original clasps; slightly rubbed, few small stains to spine and joints; on front pastedown, inscription by Joseph von Gullingstein, dated 27 April 1793, nineteenth-century label of the Bibljoteka Julinska, bookplates of the Squire Library and the Warren H. Corning Collection; on pastedown, seventeenth-century ex libris of ‘Nobilis Francisci Fidelis’, prospective graduate in medicine at Leiden University.

First German edition of the most celebrated and beautiful herbal ever published, issued only a year after the princeps. Here, many mistakes were corrected and five additional woodcuts were inserted, namely those depicting ‘Hunerbis’, ‘Spitziger Wegerich’, ‘klein Schlangen kraut’, ‘Knabenkrautweible’ and ‘Kuchens chell’. Leonhart Fuchs (1501-1566) was an eminent physician and botanist of the early German Reformation. After completing his medical studies in Ingolstadt and teaching in that university, he moved to Tübingen. There, he served Duke Ulrich of Württemberg and contributed massively to the reform of the local university, which became the first German institution of its kind to adopt a humanist and Lutheran programme. A plant and the colour fuchsia are named after him.

Fuchs wrote many medical commentaries and treatises, though this herbal was by far his major achievement. As he explains in the preface of the work, he wished his own German translation to reach a broader audience than Latinate scholars and physicians, who had found in herbals a fundamental medical tool since Antiquity and the Middle Ages and hailed with enthusiasm the Latin first edition of the work. This time, Fuchs’ target was common people interested in the natural world and the popular remedies derived from them. The readers were provided with an index of illnesses treatable with herbs, so as to facilitate consultation. Fuchs’ botanical descriptions are very accurate and mark a significant advancement in medical botany in respect of earlier somewhat crude herbals.

This work dwells on over 400 German and 100 foreign plants, each with its own detailed illustration, and includes the first description of several recently-discovered American plants, such as pumpkin, chili pepper, snap bean and maize (mistakenly considered as a Turkish product). It was highly influential, with many reprints and translations into the main European vernaculars; its woodcuts were reused in all later editions, pirated several times and copied in the works of Hieronymus Bock, Rembert Dodoens, William Turner, amongst others. The drawings were made from life by Albert Meyer, largely relying on the plants carefully gathered by Fuchs in his garden in Tübingen. Heinrich Füllmaurer transferred the illustrations onto woodblocks, which were later cut by Viet Rudolph Speckle. The three artists received the then unique honour that their portraits were included in the book.

Not in Durling or Heirs of Hyppocrates. BM STC Ger., 326; Adams, F 1107; Wellcome, 2443; Nissen, 659; Pritzel 3139; Alden, 543/11; Printing and the Mind of Man, 69 (Latin edition).


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DORSTEN, Theodor



Frankfurt, Christian Egenolff, 1540.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, ff. (10), 306. Predominantly Roman letter, some Greek and little Gothic; historiated initials, illustrated throughout with more than 300 woodcuts, all charmingly coloured by contemporary hand; some foxing, age yellowing, damp stain in lower margin of *ii, ink splash to *vir and in margin of 133v, clean tear at foot of 148v, marginal worm trail to final three gatherings. A good copy in early plain vellum boards; early title on spine and number on front cover, marbled edges; upper joint cracked, little hole on spine; contemporary autographs on title of ‘Benedictj Varchij’ and ‘Lelij Bonsij’; annotation by Bonsi on 39v.

First and only edition of this beautifully illustrated herbal. One of the two printing variants, here the title has woodcut plants instead of printer’s device. All the numerous illustrations were consistently coloured, probably for the publisher. Theodor Dorsten (1492-1552) was a physician and botanist, as well as professor of medicine at the University of Marburg. In recognition of his contribution to botanic studies, Charles Plumier and Carl Linneus named Dorstenia a family of the Moraceae (mulberry or fig family). As Dorsten explains in the preface, he was commissioned by the renowned publisher of scientific books Christian Egenolff to expand and translate into Latin the Kreutterbuch von allem Erdtwaechs by Eucharius Rösslin, published in 1533. Dorsten’s herbal was expanded in its turn in 1557 by Egenolff’s son-in-law, Adam Lonicer.

The Botanicon provides a remarkable account of sixteenth-century botanic and pharmacopeial knowledge. It describes alphabetically hundreds of herbs, along with tubers, spices, fruits, nuts, a couple of mushrooms and some liquids very broadly speaking derived from plants, such as vinegar, resin, honey, but also asphalt, cheese and water. Entries comprise a detailed illustration, the different names in Greek, Latin and German, references from ancient and contemporary authorities, description of physical qualities and healing properties and often recipes for medicaments. Those who followed some of the misleading prescriptions must have suffered greatly. Bitumen is said to cure cancer when mixed with vinegar and stop women’s periods when combined with beaver’s secretion; inhaling its smoke is supposed to prevent mucus (probably), while one gets rid of tooth pain by chewing it (perhaps). Luckily, it was hard to find asphalt at the time. It was mainly collected on the shores of the Dead Sea and thus was known as bitumen Iudaicum. The various uses suggested by Dorsten for cannabis (f. 60r) are equally noteworthy and maybe more appropriate.

This copy belonged to the famous Italian humanist Benedetto Varchi (1503-1565), as indicated by his faint autograph on the title. Varchi possessed vast and multifaceted knowledge. Member of several Italian circles and in particular the Florentine Academy, he was mainly interested in philosophy and literature. Yet, he did not disregard science. Among the 85 books identified as annotated by him, there are important treatises on maths, astronomy, veterinary and human medicine (see A. Siekiera, ‘Benedetto Varchi’, in Autografi dei letterati italiani: il Cinquecento, I, Rome 2009, pp. 337-357, at pp. 343-348). This copy was later acquired by a close friend of Varchi, Lelio Bonsi (1532-post 1569). The two exchanged some sonnets and Bonsi was included among the interlocutors of Varchi’s linguistic dialogue Ercolano. A member of the Florentine Academy and of the Order of St Stephen, Bonsi was also a legatee of Varchi’s will.

BM STC Ger., 253; Adams, D 859; VD 16, D 2442; Durling, 1203; Wellcome, I, 1861; Schmid, Kräuterbücher, 100; Pritzel, 2696.


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