The surgeons mate or Military & domestique surgery. Discouering faithfully & plainly ye method and order of ye surgeons chest, ye vses of the instruments, the vertues and operations of ye medicines, w[i]th ye exact cures of wounds made by gun-shott, and otherwise .. The cures of the scuruey…

London, printed by Rob: Young [J. Legate? and E. Purslowe], for Nicholas Bourne, and are to be sold at his shop at the south entrance of the Royall Exchange. 1639.


FIRST EDITION thus. Folio. pp. [xl], 26, [viii], 27-98, 141-275, [xiii], 301-412, [xii]. (-)1, A⁶ + (-)2, B⁶, (B5+[pi]1), C-F⁴, G⁸, H-O⁴, P⁶, 2A-2R⁴, [par.]⁶, 3A-3O⁴ 3P-3R². 5 leaves of plates (2 folded). Roman letter, some Italic and Gothic. Engraved title, bordered with portraits of famous doctors, the authors portrait below, 4 engraved plates of surgical instruments, one folding letterpress table, woodcut of Mercury on Ll3 recto, full page engraved frontispiece portrait of Charles I on horseback, woodcut alchemical symbols in text, large floriated initials, woodcut headpieces, typographical ornaments, ”Viaticum,” “Of the plague”, and “A treatise of gangrena” with separate dated title pages, with imprint “printed by E.P. for Nicholas Bourne”, pagination and register continuous from “Viaticum”, this copy with an extra ‘Epistle Congratulatory’ to Sir Christopher Clitherow, Governour of the Company of Merchants of London, inserted in first quire, not mentioned in ESTC, but as copy in Kings College London. Early autographs, repeated, of Jonathan and Thomas Paddy on fly and at head of t-p. Light age yellowing, water staining to upper margin, with small tears, outer blank margin of engraved title torn to plate mark and restored, small tear in blank of frontispiece restored, light waterstaining in places, occasional thumb mark, stain or spot. A good, crisp copy with good margins in contemporary English calf, covers bordered with a triple blind rule, spine with blind ruled raised bands, head and tail chipped, joints worn, all edges red.

A good copy, unusually complete, of the second edition of ‘The surgeons mate’, the first edition to include all Woodall’s works. John Woodall (1570–1643), a contemporary of Harvey, was an English military surgeon in Lord Willoughby’s regiment in 1591 and later first surgeon-general to the East India Company in 1612, and surgeon to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital from 1616 to 1643. He was also a Paracelsian chemist, businessman, linguist and diplomat. This edition of the Surgeon’s Mate was made required reading for all naval surgeons in the Company. He made a fortune through the stocking of medical chests for the East India Company and later the armed forces of England. The Surgeon’s Mate was the standard text to advise ships surgeons on medical treatments at sea and contains an advanced view on the treatment of scurvy. The first edition was published in 1617. This 1 second edition has the addition of the ‘Viaticum, being the Pathway to the Surgeon’s Chest, intended Chiefly for the better curing of Wounds made by Gunshot; A Treatise… of that most fearefull and contagious Disease called the Plague and A Treatise of Gangrena… chiefly for the Amputation or Dismembering of any Member of the mortified part.’ Woodall provides an extensive inventory and description of the medicines and their uses, of the instruments that the chest of the Surgeon’s Mate should contain, and those that ‘one Barbours case…ought not be Wanting… if the Surgeon’s Mate cannot trimme men.’ He devotes pages 160-176 to ‘the scurvy called in Latine Scorbutum.’ His therapeutic section considers treatments for a variety of symptoms and complications for associated conditions. His preface includes in part the remarkable statement.“[W]e have in our owne country here many excellent remedies generally knowne, as namely, Scurvy-grasse, Horse-Reddish roots, Nasturtia Aquatica, Wormwood, Sorrell, and many other good meanes… to the cure of those which live at home…they also helpe some Sea-men returned from farre who by the only natural disposition of the fresh aire and amendment of diet, nature herselfe in effect doth the Cure without other helps.” At sea, he states that experience shows that “the Lemmons, Limes, Tamarinds, Oranges, and other choice of good helps in the Indies… do farre exceed any that can be carried tither from England.”. These observations anticipated modern knowledge of the properties of vitamin C in regard to scurvy, and of the unstable nature of this vitamin when stored.

“In an effort to remedy these problems, the Company also commissioned Woodall to write a text to help its medical men: the first edition of the very influential work, “The Surgeon’s Mate”, was published in 1617.
A good unsophisticated copy of this important and most interesting work, often incomplete.” Cheryl Fury, Hakluyt Society Annual Lecture 2018.

ESTC S95910. STC 25963. Wellcome 6775; cf. Garrison and Morton 2144. Osler 4273.  Lowndes 2987.


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Libellus de Epidemia, quam vulgo morbum Gallicum vocant.

Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1497.


FIRST EDITION. 4to., 29 leaves, a-c8, d(4+1). Predominantly Roman letter, little Greek; lower outer corner of title slightly soiled, very light marginal water stains. A very good copy in old vellum, recased, gilt title and author’s name on front cover; five marginalia, including a scholarly cutting remark (slightly cropped), in same contemporary probably French hand at head of title ‘Est Meij Jo. Baptis. Loms[?]’.

First edition of the earliest scholarly account of syphilis, by Niccolò Leoniceno (1428-1524), a very influential physician, botanist and scholar of the Italian Renaissance. A skilled student of Greek, Leoniceno taught in Padua before settling in the university and court of Ferrara. Here, he accomplished pioneering translations of the Greek classics, such as Arrian, Diodorus, Appian, Polybius, Cassius Dio and, first and foremost, a large part of Galen’s corpus. Over the course of his extraordinarily long life, Leoniceno was well acquainted with the most prominent scholars of his time, including Pico della Mirandola, Ermolao Barbaro and Angelo Poliziano. Lending Aldus Manutius some of his prized manuscripts, he took an active part in the Aldine Greek editions of Aristotle and Galen.

In 1497, he published De morbo Gallico, following the epidemic in the Italian peninsula after the arrival of the French troops of Charles VIII. The book, dedicated to Gian Francesco Pico della Mirandola, corrects several mistakes of the Arabic medical tradition in identifying and naming diseases and proved that syphilis had been known already to the Greeks and Romans. This and other works by Leoniceno led Erasmus to rate him as one of the few humanists to revive medical studies alongside Guillaume Cop and Linacre. This copy retains the final additional leaf with errata.

ISTC, il00165000; BM STC, V, 557; GW, M17947; Hain, 10019; IGI 6814; Goff, L-165; Klebs, 599.1; Renouard, 14:12 (‘Extrêmement rare, et le premier qui ait été publié sur cette maladie’); Wellcome, 3736; Morton, 2363; Bibliotheca Osleriana, 7452. Not in Durling or Heirs of Hippocrates.


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KETHAM, Johannes de


Fasciculus medici[n]e.

Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1522.


Folio, ff. (4), 58 (i.e. 59), (1). Roman letter; title within decorative border, printer’s device on penultimate verso, historiated and black-on-white decorated initials, ten detailed and neat full-page illustrations; a few dust-soiled leaves, minor oil splash on 23r-26v, just affecting one woodcut. A fine copy in crushed dark morocco gilt by Gruel, a. e. g.; several contemporary and late sixteenth-century Italian marginalia, manicula and emendations by different hands; small blue stamp of the Selbourne Library on title verso and foot of 51r. Preserved in slipcase.

Early edition of a masterpiece of the Renaissance art of the book, revised and expanded after the princeps of 1491. Little, if anything, is known about Kentham, who has been identified as Johannes von Kirchheim, a professor from Swabia teaching medicine in Vienna around 1460. Rather than the author of this influential collection of medical essays, he appears to be the owner of the manuscript used by the printer of the first edition who mistakenly took him for the compiler.

The work enjoyed great success and was soon translated into Italian, German and Spanish. This imprint includes Mondino de Luzzi’s Anatomia and the treatise on venoms of his pupil and commentator, Alessandro Achillini; most importantly, it retains all the superb apparatus of illustrations designed for the Italian translation of the Fasciculus published in Venice in 1493 by the de Gregorii brothers, incorporating also the minor changes introduced in the later reprints of 1500 and 1513.

“The typography and artistic qualities of this edition [Venice, 1493] of the Fasciculus make it of interest far beyond the world of medicine. It was the first printed medical book to be illustrated with a series of realistic figures: these include a Zodiac man, bloodletting man, planet man, an urinoscopic consultation, a pregnant woman and notably a dissection scene which is one of the first and finest representation of this operation to appear in any book (…) Most of these figures have medieval prototypes, but they are here designed by an artist of the first rank. His identity has never been discovered; it has been suggested – wrongly – that he was the Polifilo master; but he was certainly an artist close to the Bellini school.” PMM, p. 20.

Uncommon. Not in BM STC It. or Adams. Durling, 2660; Heirs of Hippocrates, 72; Essling, 592; Sandler 3753; PMM, 36 (1493/94).


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De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem.

Venice, Gaspare Bindoni the younger, 1597.


FIRST EDITION. Folio, pp. (32), 94, (2), 95, (1), 47, (33). Roman letter, some Italic; decorated initials and tail-pieces; additional engraved architectural title (with its conjugate blank) incorporating arms of Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and standing Hippocrates and Galen; black-and-red printed title, large printer’s device on both; 22 full-page woodcut illustrations throughout, two smaller of surgical instruments and procedures on f. 257; additional engraved title slightly trimmed at foot, oil splash to upper corner of first three numbered pages, a few leaves browned, little worming to upper margin of last three. A good, very well margined copy in contemporary plain vellum, contemporary inked title to lower edge; two minor stains and spine repairs; early ink initials ‘H.H.M.B.C.’ on both titles, contemporary ex libris on title verso ‘Jacobi Alexandri Nardi ad ipsius usu’, and price on fly.

Most complete issue of the first edition of this curious medical work, devoted entirely to plastic surgery and providing the first instruction for reconstructing nose, lips and ears. Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599) was a pioneering Italian physician and pupil of Girolamo Cardano, Ulisse Aldrovandi and Giulio Cesare Avanzi. Upon his graduation, he was appointed lecturer of surgery at the University of Bologna; later, he became one of the most acclaimed professors of the athenaeum, demonstrating his techniques of dissection on recently-dead bodies. A pious man, he was charged by the cardinals’ Congregation over the Index of Forbidden Books with the emendation of the works of the Lutheran botanist Leonhardt Fuchs. In Bologna, he also offered his service to the hospital of the Brotherhood of the Death; this local religious fellowship engaged with comforting the prisoners condemned to die. Through this privileged channel, Tagliacozzi had always plenty of corpses for his anatomical and surgical studies.

De curtorum chirurgia was Tagliacozzi’s most renowned achievement. In the work, he improved and described for the first time the so-called metodo italiano, a technique of facial reconstruction via a skin graft taken from the left forearm. The well-known twenty-two plates depict surgical instruments and document every step of the process of rhinoplasty. Following the operation, the patient was immobilised in a complex vest devised by Tagliacozzi himself, waiting for the complete adherence of the graft to his nose. The process was supposed to take from two to three weeks. Tagliacozzi was aware of some aesthetic imperfection of the result, but was more concerned with the relieving benefits he wished to give to his patients’ mind and spirit. His fame as ‘the first plastic surgeon’ was so wide that several Italian noblemen sought his service. Among them, the Duke of Mantua Vincenzo Gonzaga, to whom De curtorum chirurgia is dedicated.

BM STC It., 655; Adams, T59; Durling, 4310; Heirs of Hippocrates, 236; Wellcome, 6210; Garrison & Morton, 5734; Norman, 2048; Osler, 4079.


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LEONICENO, Niccolò [with] LEONICENO, Niccolò [and] HUTTEN, Ulrich von


De serpentibus [with] Antisophista [and] De guaiaci medicina et morbo gallico.

Bologna, Giovanni Antonio Benedetti,1518 [with] Bologna, Girolamo Benedetti,1519 [and] Mainz, Johann Schoeffer, 1519.


4to, 3 volumes in one. 1): FIRST EDITION. 54 leaves, A-M4, N6; 2): FIRST EDITION. 78 leaves, A4, BB-II4, K-S4, T6; 3): FIRST EDITION. 44 leaves, a-l4. Roman letter, little Greek; large printer’s device on first colophon, full-page coat of arms of dedicatee on title and full-page portrait of author on final leaf of 3); intermittent marginal light damp stain to 2). A very good copy in eighteenth-century ¾ calf, gilt spine, titles on morocco labels, patterned endpapers; minor worm trails on front joint and rear cover; remains of shelfmark label on front; contemporary 9 line manuscript record on second title of the gift of this volume by Johann Fabri to St Nicholas College in Vienna in 1541; tiny circular stamp of the Selbourne library to margin of ff. Aiv, Giiir.

A very interesting collection of uncommon first-edition medical treatises on snakes, venoms and syphilis by Niccolò Leoniceno and Ulrich von Hutten. Leoniceno (1428-1524) was a very influential physician, botanist and scholar of the Italian Renaissance. A skilled student of Greek, he taught in Padua before settling in the university and the court of Ferrara. Here, he accomplished several pioneering translations of the Greek classics, such as Arrian, Diodorus, Appian, Polybius, Cassius Dio and, first and foremost, large part of Galen’s corpus. Over the course of his extraordinary long life, Leoniceno was well acquainted with the most prominent scholars of his time, including Pico della Mirandola, Ermolao Barbaro and Angelo Poliziano. Lending Aldus Manutius some of his prized manuscripts, he took an active part in the Aldine Greek editions of Aristotle and Galen.

In 1497, he published the first scholarly account of syphilis, following the epidemic in the Italian peninsula after the arrival of the French troops of Charles VIII. Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523) was a German poet as well as a precursor and early partisan of Luther. After quitting monastic life and searching in vain for patrons of his pen, he eventually came into the service of the prince-archbishop Albert of Brandenburg. In 1517, the Emperor bestowed him the title of poet laureate. Later, he lost Albert’s favour and took part in the disastrous religious uprising known as the Knights’ Revolt in 1523; he died in seclusion in Zurich. He published extensively both in Latin and German and set up a printing press in Strasbourg.

The work opening this volume is the earliest scientific attempt to describe effects and antidotes of snakes’ venom and discusses other dangerous reptiles such as crocodiles. This is the most correct variant of the first edition, comprising the ‘Mendae ex incuria’ on title verso. De Serpentibus also includes a short essay on vipers, previously issued by Aldus Manutius about 1497, almost certainly in recognition of Leoniceno’s contribution to the Aldine enterprise. Then follows the Antisophista, a defence of Leoniceno’s pedagogical and theoretical thinking. Although allegedly written by a former pupil of his hidden behind the pseudonym ‘Medicus Romanus’, this work is frequently ascribed to Leoniceno himself. It strongly argues that many Italian physicians and professors of medicine dwell too much on the sophistications introduced by Roman, Arab and medieval translators, instead of going back to Greek sources and grasping the true meaning of medical terms.

Leoniceno’s teaching marks a fundamental watershed in the history of early modern medicine, triggering the revival of Galenic and Hippocratic studies (see R. J. Durling, ‘A Chronological Census of Renaissance Editions and Translations of Galen’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XXIV, 1961, pp. 230-305). The third work of the volume consists of one of the earliest reports by a patient affected by syphilis. Von Hutten suffered from this illness for 15 years and decided to share his pain with readers by describing symptoms and treatments with the help of Albert of Brandenburg’s physicians. He tried unsuccessfully to cure himself with mercury and later with guaiacum (gum from a tree of Central America). Such an innovative account was immediately reprinted in Paris and Strasbourg. It is dedicated to Albert of Brandenburg, who also died of syphilis.

This copy of Antisophista was previously owned by Johann Fabri (1478-1541), bishop of Vienna and prominent Catholic controversialist. A learned theologian and humanist, Fabri gathered an impressive library, which he bequeathed to the trilingual college he had established in Vienna. This institution, however, had a very short life and Fabri’s books were for the most part included into the Imperial Library (now the Austrian National Library). The notarial annotation on the title page, dictated by Fabri on 10 January 1541 some months before dying, records the first donation to the college, to the benefit of students and professors.

1) Not in Durling or Heirs of Hippocrates. BM STC It., 466; Adams, L501; Brunet III, 986 (‘volume peu commun’); Wellcome I, 3740.

2) Not BM STC It or Heirs of Hippocrates. Adams, L498; Durling, 3053; Welcome, 3741.

3) Not in Heirs of Hippocrates. BM STC Ger., 426; Adams, H1221; Durling, 2509; Welcome, 3364.


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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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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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Institutiones chirurgicae … pro chirurgis in praxis examinandi.

Madrid, Sanchez, 1594.


FIRST EDITION, 8vo, ff. (4), 112, 83, (1). Roman letter; large coat of arms of Philipp II of Spain on title, white-and-black decorated initials; marginal repairs to some fore edges occasionally affecting side notes; tiny worm holes at head of pp. 33-49. A good clean copy in modern boards.

First edition of this textbook for university-trained surgeons in the Spanish Kingdom. Luis Mercado (1525? – 1606) was a renowned physician and professor in Valladolid. For his outstanding merit, he was appointed personal doctor to the Kings Philipp II and III, as well as leading practitioner of the kingdom (protomedico). He was a pioneer in gynaecology and paediatrics and the first scholar to provide an analytical, correct description of diphtheria and syphilis. As a proof of his posthumous fame, his name crops up several times in Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy.’

Philipp II was concerned with the poor quality of training of Spanish medical practitioners, and wanted to improve it. At his request, Mercado wrote this comprehensive account of contemporary knowledge on surgery, so as to standardize the requirements for graduates. The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with surgical practice with regard to cancers, wounds and ulcerations, while the second focuses on pharmacology and postoperative procedure. The examinees were asked to learn by heart all the contents.

The standard manual for physicians, the ‘Institutiones medicae,’ was published in the same year as a companion work. The crown ordered the universities of Salamanca, Valladolid and Alcalá de Henares to adopt both Mercado’s textbooks in their curricula, and the two books to be widely printed and distributed. In his capacity as protomedico, Mercado supervised all the licensing examinations and retained the last word on final results. An uncommon and important work.

Not in BM STC Sp., Adams, Heirs of Hippocrates. Durling, 3079; Wellcome, 4214.


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Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum.

Venice, Simon Bevilaqua, 1499.


4to. ff. 172. A4, a-x8. including final blank. Roman letter in two sizes, 28 lines first part, 37 lines second part, title in Gothic. Large white on black floriated initial, capital spaces with guide letters, 150 numbered half-page woodcuts of plants (a few misnumbered), bookplates of Carleton P. Richmond and Arthur and Charlotte Vershbow on pastedown. Single worm hole in lower blank margin, very occasional minor marginal thumb mark. A fine copy, crisp and clean, on thick paper, with very good margins, in cream paper over boards c. 1800, orange paper labels gilt, head and tail fractionally rubbed.

A lovely copy of the second Italian edition of the Herbarius, the first illustrated herbal printed south of the Alps. Many of the woodcuts, first used in the Vicenza 1491 edition, differ substantially from those of the earlier German editions. The blocks, cut for that Vicenza edition, were imported to Venice by Simon Bevilacqua for this one. Following an error in the text, the work was wrongly attributed to Arnaldus de Villanova. The text is divided into two sections.

The first part features 150 woodcuts of plants which grew in Germany, arranged in alphabetical order with a Latin name and a description of their  properties and medical uses. Among the best known are garlic, basil, chamomile, ivy, gentian, genista, lily, lemon verbena, mallow, mint, marjoram, mandrake, oregano, leek, poppy, rose, rosemary, currant, spinach, willow, sage, violet, valerian. Among the rarest is ‘artemisia’ or mugwort, a plant used in the past to cure female illnesses and problems. A bath in the water of a decoction made essentially with mugwort and laurel’s leaves would induce abortion of a foetus and menstruation. Mugwort was also used to treat frigidity and sterility, and to keep demons away from home.

The second part, in 96 chapters, deals with the medicines and herbs available from German apothecaries and spice merchants such as laxatives; aromatics, fruits, seeds and garden plants; gums and resins; salts; minerals and stones; and animals and their products (goose-greese, cheese, honey and ivory). The purpose of the work was entirely practical. The illustrations are stylised and full of charm, and the names are printed clearly in capital letters, so that the plants could be easily identified by, and accessible to a barely literate public. A very valuable and popular pharmacopoeia which went through a number of editions, of which the Italian ones display “a different and better set of figures” (Arber p. 17).

“These drawings are more ambitious than those in the original German [editions], and, on the whole, they are more naturalistic. A delightful example, almost Japanese in style, shows an iris at the edge of a stream, from which a graceful bird is drinking. In another picture the fern called ‘capillus veneris’, which is perhaps intended for the maidenhair, is represented hanging from rocks over water” (Arber, pp.192-93). A fine, very fresh copy of this important and beautifully illustrated edition.

BMC V, 524. BSB-Ink. H-104. Early Herbals 11. Essling 1190. HC 1807*; IGI 5677; Klebs 506.11. Nissen BBI 2308. Pellechet 1315. Sander 612. Wellcome 3101. Goff H-69.


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LEMNIUS, Levin (translated by J. Gohory)

Les Occultes Merveilles et Secretz de Nature, avec plusieurs enseignemens des choses divers.

Paris, Gailiot du Pré, 1574.


8vo., ff. (i) 212 (xx). Roman letter, side notes and quotations in Italic. Woodcut printer’s device on title, contemporary autograph “Grisson” beneath. Woodcut initials and decorations. Occasional contemporary marginal annotations. Light paper yellowing. Very good copy in contemporary vellum, 19C book plates on paste down.

Lemnius (1505-1568) studied medicine at Louvain under Dodoens, Gessner, and Vesalius and practised for over forty years in his home town of Zelande with great success. This work, translated by Jacques Gohory, was designed as much for the amusement of the reader as for his education, and contains a mass of information, partly real, partly fantastic, taken from ancient Greek, Hebrew, Arab, and Latin sources, and presented and commented on in rather haphazard fashion. “Bits of medical and natural lore are thrown together hit-or-miss,” but not without importance “since it was often cited by subsequent learned authors, and since the numerous editions and translations of it show that it was well suited to the tastes of the time.” (Thorndike).

Despite his interest in the occult and belief in the importance of the influence that the stars and moon exert on the person, Lemnius remained pragmatic, always insisting on the importance of treating the patient with what remedies were available rather than relying on astronomy. Of the many diverse and interesting subjects the book deals with, such as the effects of human saliva, or whether it is better to sleep with one’s mouth open or closed, one most referred to is the subject of vines, wine and drunks. White wine should be drunk before red, vinegar is useful in times of plague, the wines of the Poitou make you quarrelsome whereas the wines of the Rhine make you amorous, and when inebriated, you must not sleep in the moon rays. Translations of books dealing with the occult sciences are rare (an English translation of this work did not appear until 1650).

BM STC Fr. 16C p.262. Brunet III 972. Graesse IV 159. Not in Adams. French edition not in Cantamessa. Not in Honeyman. Thorndike V 393/4. Simon II 403.


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