BOODT, Anselmus

IMPORTANT WORK ON GEMSTONES AND MINERALS

Gemmarum et lapidum historia. Nunc vero recensuit, à mendis repurgavit, commentariis et pluribus melioribusque figuris illustravit & multo locupletiore indice auxit Adrianus Toll.

Leiden, Joannis Maire, 1636.

£3,250

8vo. [viii], 576 p., [xxiv] (last leaf blank), 2 folding tables. Woodcut printer’s device on title, foliated woodcut initials and tailpieces, forty three woodcuts in the text, early ms. shelf mark on title. Light age yellowing. A very good, clean copy, with folding tables in excellent condition, in three-quarter vellum over marbled paper boards c. 1700, title gilt on spine, all edges speckled red.

Second corrected and improved edition (including new illustration) by Adrianus Toll, of this important work on gemstones and minerals, first published in 1609, the definitive work of the Belgian mineralogist, alchemist and physician, Anselmus Boodt. “In his Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia, Boodt made the first attempt at a systematic description of minerals, dividing the minerals into great and small, rare and common, hard and soft, combustible and incombustible, transparent and opaque. He uses a scale of hardness expressed in three degrees and notes the crystalline forms of some minerals (triangular, quadratic, and hexangular).

Boodt criticizes some of the views of Aristotle, Pliny, Paracelsus, and others. He also mentions atoms. He enumerates about 600 minerals that he knows from personal observation, and describes their properties, values, imitations, and medical applications. There are also tables of values of diamonds according to their size and a short description of the polishing of precious stones. Boodt cites nineteen authors and, besides the minerals known to him, gives a list of 233 minerals whose names he knows from Pliny and Bartholomeus Anglicus, among others.” D.S.B., II, p. 293.

From 1583 Boodt lived Bohemia as physician to Wilhelm Rosenberg, the burgrave of Prague. In 1584 he was nominated physician in ordinary to Rudolf II (with a considerable salary) and retained this position until 1612. There is no evidence however that he ever seriously practiced as a physician; Rudolf clearly saw him as one of his alchemists. Boodt was placed in charge of Rudolf’s collection of gems in his ‘Kunstkammer’. The ‘Naturalia’ (minerals and gemstones) were in a 37 cabinet display with the gems and minerals systematically arranged, the large uncut gemstones held in strong boxes. De Boodt was an avid mineral collector and travelled widely on collecting trips to the mining regions of Germany, Bohemia and Silesia, often accompanied by his Bohemian naturalist friend, Thaddaeus Hagecius.

This work also gives us our most important source of knowledge of Renaissance gem cutting, the carving of precious stones, the making of jewelry, forgery and trade of precious stones. “De Boodt assembled virtually all of the knowledge then extant… by far the most thorough and complete up to date… [his work] is further distinguished by its intimate knowledge of the art of the lapidary and must therefore be regarded as the first treatise to offer more than the briefest views of gem cutting” Sinkankas. The woodcuts include illustrations of corals, geodes, fossils, gems, minerals, along with tools and methods of working them. A very good copy of this seminal work.

Brunet I p. 1108. ‘Ouvrage assez curieux’. Graesse I p. 493. “The most important lapidary of the seventeenth century and exerted a widespread influence” Partington II pp 101-2. Wellcome I 981.

L1023b

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RONDELET, Guillaume

Libri de Piscibus Marinis

Lyon, apud Matthiam Bonhomme, 1554.

£12,750

FIRST EDITION. Folio. [xvi] 583 [xxv] Roman and Italic letter, historiated woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces, t.p. with printer’s device of Perseus with the head of Medusa within architectural border, woodcut portrait of the author on verso of a8, 248 woodcut illustrations of fish and other sea creatures after the designs of Georges Reverdi. Light age yellowing, waterstaining to first and last few gatherings, single wormhole throughout at inner margin of book occasionally just touching text, wormtrail to upper margin of a few gatherings, very neatly restored. Near contemporary ms ex libris autography of “Jo[hann]is Dominici De San[?]y eq[itis] [aur]ati Cas Sti Andrea”, C19 Nordkirchen bookplate of the Dukes of Arenberg on inside cover, remains of ms vellum stubbs. A clean and well margined copy in contemporary calf over thick wooden boards, richly blind-rolled in ornate, deeply cut panels with corner pieces, a central diamond and blind stamp depiction of the three crosses at Golgotha, rolls in a floral motif with unnamed portrait medallions, spine triple-ruled in five compartments with raised bands, each stamped with ornaments, slight tearing at upper and lower joints, defective at head and tail, lacking clasps.

FIRST EDITION of Rondelet’s seminal work on all aquatic animals the most important published up to that time. The first four books are a general discussion about fish with comparative anatomy and specific treatment of anatomical anomalies such as gills, tentacles, stingers, etc. Through an experiment he argues that fish must take in some type of air from the water into their gills: he proves this by keeping a bowl sealed tight which causes the fish inside to suffocate. The rest of the book comprises of around 300 descriptions, the majority illustrated, of marine life, listing the names of each in local languages, its living and feeding habits, anatomical features, and for those fish he could observe and dissect personally, even more information on nutrition, reproduction, and natural habitats. An encyclopedia of sealife would be remiss if it were to by pass a good meal, but luckily Rondelet includes cooking tips and recipes for fish-based meals throughout the entries. For instance, Bream, a small freshwater fish, is good “‘boiled in water and wine as is done in France’, but it is equally good in a variety of other ways. It can be grilled after placing fennel and rosemary in its belly; it can be roasted or served cold; or can even be baked in a crust, [etc.].’ […] Not only has Rondelet given us a series of potential recipes for this fish but he has also revealed some regional culinary preferences.” (Fitzpatrick cit. infr.)

Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566) studied medicine at Montpellier, but “although he was active in several branches of biology, Rondelet’s reputation effectively depends on his massive compendium on aquatic life, which covered far more species than any earlier work in that field. Despite its theoretical limitation, it laid the foundations for later ichthyological research and was the standard reference work for over a century.[…]In his own day Rondelet was almost as well known as an anatomist as a zoologist. A popular lecturer, Rondelet attracted scholars from all over Europe: Coiter and Bauhin; L’Écluse; L’Obel, who inherited his botanical manuscripts; and Daleschamps. Gesner and Aldrovandi also studied briefly under him.” (DSB cit. infr.)

Adams R-746. Baudrier X 239. DSB XI 527-528. Garrison-Morton 282. Osler 3821. Nissen I 3474. Joan Fitzpatrick, Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare  , 33.

L1220

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NIEREMBERG, John Eusebius

THE NEW WORLD’S FAUNA AND FLORA IN FIRST AND ONLY EDITION

Historia Naturae Maxime Peregrinae.

Antwerp, Plantin, Balthasar Moretus, 1635.

£7,500

FIRST EDITION. Folio pp. (viii) 502 (cvi), last blank, text in double column. Roman letter, some Italic and Greek. Title in red and black with Plantin’s finely engraved device, woodcut compass device on verso of last, woodcut initials and tail pieces. Text illustrated by 69 beautiful woodcuts, 54 of animals and 15 of plants, often signed C.I., autograph “Labouritte 1778” on pastedown, the initials ‘M M’ with shelfmark beneath, early C18th library stamp “Ex Musaeo J. P Borin” beneath that, contemporary manuscript ex libris “R. L. M. Colleg soc.tis Jesu Mons” at head of title page. General even browning (as usual), some light mostly marginal water staining in places, the odd spot or mark. A good copy, in contemporary vellum over boards, stubbs from an early antiphonal leaf, corners and extremities a little worn.

First and only edition of Niermberg’s important and encyclopaedic natural history, devoted for the most part to the flora and fauna of the New World, and particularly Mexico. There had been earlier accounts of the natural history of the New World, mostly in passages of travel books, but this was the first attempt to order them, and can properly be described as the first American Natural History. Many species are described or illustrated here for the first time, and in supplying the indigenous names for the plants and animals described, the work is an important linguistic source for the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs. There is also much information on the culture and rites of the Aztecs and Incas, and of Mexico before the conquest.

Nieremberg’s sources are various but it seems certain that much of this work is derived from manuscripts brought back by Francisco Hernandez, who had made a large compendium of Aztec flora and fauna, using a group of Aztec artists and draughtsmen. This work is all the more important in that the original drawings were destroyed along with a large part of the famous library at the Escorial, and perhaps the charm of the boldly stylised illustrations reflect their manuscript origin. The woodcuts were made by the Flemish artist Christoffel Jegher who worked as Ruben’s engraver and extensively for the Plantin-Moretus publishing house. They include the raccoon, rattlesnake, dodo, toucan, birds of paradise, water lily, coconut tree, cactus, iguana, amongst others, a great deal of them in their first representation in a printed work.

The text is scientifically organised by genus: plants, fish, birds, minerals etc. with much technical observation of animals, minerals, and plants and their properties. There is also a chapter on tobacco and its therapeutic use. The book ends with two fascinating chapters on Nieremberg’s observations on miraculous events in Europe and the Holy Land, followed by an extensive and very useful index. Nieremberg was a noted theologian and prolific writer, born of German parents in Madrid in 1595, who taught humanities and natural history for sixteen years at the Imperial College, having joined the Society of Jesus in 1614. His writings on occult philosophy and natural magic were influential. The book is dedicated to Gaspar de Gusman, Count of Olivares, Grand Chancellor to the Indies.

Palau 190738. Brunet IV pp. 76 “on y trouve des particularités importantes qui n’étaient pas encores connues alors.” Sabin 55268 “the greater part of this work relates to the natural history of Mexico, or New Spain, it also contains some particulars relative to Mexico before the conquest”. Wellcome 4546. Nissen (2 vol.) 2974. Arents 3278. Pritzel 6701. Alden 635/94. Not in JFB.

L1549

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