GESNER, Conrad


Historiae animalium.

Zurich, Christoph Froschouer, 1551, 1554, 1555, 1558, and 1587.


FIRST EDITIONS. 5 volumes, folio. 1) pp. (xl) 1104 (xii); 2) 2 parts in 1. pp. (viii) 110 (ii) 27 (i); 3) pp. (xxxvi) 779 (i); 4) pp. (xl) 1297 (i); 5) 2 parts in 1. ff. (vi) 85, 11. Roman letter, some Italic, Greek, Gothic, and Hebrew. Historiated and decorated initials, over 900 extraordinary woodcut illustrations of animals (full, ½, or ¼ page), printer’s device to titlepages, arms of Holy Roman Emperor and Swiss cities and cut of the creation of Eve to t-p and initial leaf of vol. 1 respectively, portrait of Gesner to t-p verso in vol. 3. General light age yellowing, occasionally small mostly marginal water stains, ink splashes, thumb marks, or foxing. Vol. 1 with tiny marginal worm holes to first few gatherings; age yellowing to last gathering in vol. 2; age yellowing to vol. 5. Fine set of very good, well-margined copies, light scratching and rubbing on covers. early ms title and shelfmark to spines (C19 red morocco label to vol. 2).

1) Very high-quality contemporary (probably Swiss) deerskin over bevelled wooden boards (see BL c66g3), lacking clasps, slightly wormed. Richly blind-tooled, triple fillet, rolls of fleurons to outer and central panels of upper cover; rolls of charming lilies, roses, and fleurons, floral decorations and trefoils to lower. C19 stamp ‘+ 8 III’ to front pastedown, c.1600 ex-libris ‘Sum B: Mariae Virginis in Ruttenbuech’ to t-p.

2) C19 boards. Inscription ‘Leydig 1869’ to first blank, stamps ‘BVT’, ‘Vernaufte Doublette’, and ‘Bonn University’, ex-libris ‘Monasterij Weingartensis An. 1598’, and ‘M: Andreas Cochleus parrochij Sigmaringa me tenet’ all to t-p.

3) Contemporary German pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, lacking clasps. Blind-tooled to three-panel stamp, double fillet. Upper cover with rolls of fleurons to centre, female figures (Spes, Fides, Caritas) and Christ holding a sword, church, and globe (Gratia Christi, Doctor, Ecclesia) to outer panels. Lower with all’antica motif and male and female heads in roundels to outer panel, female figures of vices and virtues to middle and centre, floral centrepiece. C16 inscription ‘NB Hic author numeratur in prohibitos libros primae classis in Cathalogo Iudicii Concilio Tridentino annexi’, and ex-libris ‘Honoratus Abbas in Seon. 1646’ to t-p, occasional early inscriptions throughout.    

4) Contemporary German pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, with ties. Blind-tooled three-panel stamp, triple fillet, rolls of fleurons to outer panel, figures of the Four Evangelists and male heads in roundels to middle and centre, floral centrepiece. C16 ex-libris ‘Joannis Jacobi à Magenburg’ to t-p, ‘[illegible] Staatsbibliothek’ faint stamp to t-p and last blank.

5) Contemporary (probably German) deerskin over bevelled wooden boards, original clasps. Richly blind-tooled stamp (some faded gilt), triple fillet. Alternate rolls of fleurons and all’antica motif, third panel with male heads in roundels, centre with fleurons to corners and arabesque centrepiece, blue fore-edges. Spine a bit cracked, blind-tooled fleurons to compartments. Shelfmark ‘Q II 2’ to first blank, ex-libris ‘Collegij Socis Jesu Nissae’, ‘ex dono Sermi Carolij Episcopi Brix. & Wra:’, ‘Anno 1622’, ‘Catalogo inscriptus C3’ to t-p, stamp ‘Ex Biblioth. Gymnasii Nisseni’ to t-p verso.

Most unusually complete five-volume first edition of this extremely influential compendium of the history of zoology. Conrad Gesner (1516-1565), a Swiss naturalist, studied natural and medical sciences at Lausanne, Montpellier, and Zurich. The ‘Historiae animalium’ is his masterpiece, and was still being consulted by C19 scientists. The first four volumes—on viviparous and oviparous quadrupeds, birds, and aquatic animals, following Aristotle’s classification—were published during Gesner’s lifetime, while vol. 5 on reptiles and scorpions—which is also the rarest—was printed posthumously in 1587. An epitome of all available knowledge on the animal kingdom, the ‘Historiae’ combined fabulous and real animals, literary (proverbs, etymology) and scientific (behaviour, physical features, medical uses) material. On the one hand, it still relied on classical, biblical, folkloric, and religious interpretations of the animal world, some of which caused the volumes to be added to the index of prohibited books at the Council of Trent, as noted by a C16 hand on this copy of vol. 3. On the other hand, the ‘Historiae’ paid greater attention to the analytical observation and representation of animals.

The 900 exquisite woodcuts (here in excellent impression), based on the work of several artists including Gesner, are so detailed that dozens of individual species, like those of the Linnaean order now known as ‘passeriformes’, are immediately recognisable to a modern eye. Some were based on earlier works including the ‘Gart der Gesuntheit’, Olaus Magnus’s ‘Historia’, Peter Martyr’s ‘De orbe novo’, and Dürer’s famous rhinoceros. A few, including the pelican, were a blend of real and literary creatures. Many others were made ‘ad vivum’, either, like the birds of paradise, through Gesner’s memories of exotic animals he had seen at city fairs, or, like the guinea pig, thanks to pictures and live or dried specimens from the cabinets of curiosities of major European naturalists. Among them were John Caius, physician at the Tudor court, and Gisbert Horstius, who owned a garden in Rome with snakes and aquatic animals copied for Gesner by Cornelius Sittardus.

‘Although the ‘Historia Animalium’ does not yet show any recognition of a connexion between different forms of living nature and fails to conform to our modern ideas of biological research, it was a great step forward and remained the most authoritative zoological book between Aristotle and the publication of Ray’s classification of fauna in 1693. It was many times reprinted and […] it remained the standard reference book even as late as Linné and beyond, because neither Linné nor Ray included illustrations. Editions were published in German in 1557-1613, an English abridgment by Topsell in 1607; and Gesner’s unpublished notes on insects formed the basis of Moffet’s ‘Insectorum sive Minimorum Animalium Theatrum’, 1634. Cuviet was one of his greatest admirers and named him the “German Pliny”.’ (‘Printing and the Mind of Man’, 77)

Exceptional owners of these copies were Charles von Habsburg, Archduke of Austria, Bishop of Brixen and Wrocław, who donated vol. 5 to the Jesuit Collegium he founded in Niesse in 1622. The ex-libris of Franz von Leydig (1821-1908), professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at Tübingen, is recorded in vol. 2. In 1875, after publishing major studies on the morphology of human and animal cells and tissues, von Leydig became professor at Bonn, where vol. 2 was recorded in the C19, and later sold as a duplicate. In the C16 and C17, four volumes were for a time in possession of German religious institutions: Rottenbuch Abbey (vol. 1), Weingarten Abbey (vol. 2), Seeon Abbey (vol. 3), and the Jesuit Collegium of Neisse (vol. 5). In the same years, vols 4 and 5 were also privately owned by a priest in Sigmaringen and Johannes Jacob from Magdeburg.

Only 4 complete copies recorded in the US.

Brunet II, 1564: ‘la plus belle et la plus estimée; mais il est difficile d’en trouver des exemplaires bien complets, aver la 5e partie’; Graesse III, 67: ‘la plus belle et la plus recherchée éd.’; BM STC Ger. p. 358; Wellcome I, 2815 (vol. 5 only). See S. Kusukawa, ‘The Sources of Gessner’s Pictures for the Historiae animalium’, Annals of Science 67 (2010), pp. 303-28; Printing and the Mind of Man, 77.


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TOPSELL, Edward (trans.); GESNER, Conrad

The Historie of Fovre-Footed Beastes [with] The Historie of Serpents.

London, William Iaggard, 1607; 1608


FIRST EDITIONS. Folio. 2 books in 1. [xlii] 758 [xii]; [x] 316 [viii]. A⁶ [¶]⁶ 2[¶]⁸ *² B-2V⁶ 3A-3X⁶ 3Y⁸ [first blank, F4+1]. A-V⁶ 2A-2H⁶. [first blank]. Roman and Italic letter, first word of titles xylographic, floriated woodcut initials and grotesque head and tail-pieces, typographical and metalcut ornaments, first t.p. with cut of hyena (used for sea wolf on p. 749), pencil note in Pirie’s hand on fly; “This copy and the one in the BM are the only one known with the sea-wolf title-page, most have the Gorgon. A copy with a sea-wolf on the title was lot 481 in the Foyle sale”, second t.p. with the Boa, there is an extra leaf after F4 with heading: “The Picture of the vulger Bugill Folio 57.” in total 155 distinct woodcut illustrations of animals, 15 full-page, eighteenth century engraved bookplate on pastedown, another modern with monogram DP above, Robert S Pirie’s below. Light age yellowing, very minor marginal light waterstain to outer margins in places. Fine copies, crisp and clean with woodcuts in very good impressions, in handsome contemporary polished calf, covers double blind, and single gilt ruled to a panel design, large fleuron with acorn to outer corners, fine strap-work arabesque gilt at centres, spine with raised bands, rebacked, some repair to corners.

First editions in English of Gesner’s work on quadrupeds, illustrating both real and legendary beasts, with an additional work on snakes, including chapters on bees, wasps and flies. Animals are categorized alphabetically, resulting in a few interesting sequences: the Gorgon is beside the Hare, and the Manticore with face of a man, hundreds of sharp teeth, and the body of a lion, is next to a typical Ibex, or Mountain Goat. Although it depicts several mythical beasts in striking (if fantastic) woodcut detail, they are given little space text wise, and the majority of the book depicts European and exotic mammals, and domesticated animals. The largest section describes twenty breeds of dog, as well as an extensive treatment of horses, with an attention to veterinary care and showmanship.  Of Cats, Gesner is wary: “this is a dangerous beast…so with a wary and discreet eye we must avoid their harms”. And of the Rhinoceros, ornamented by an imitation of Dürer, he is simply in awe, asking the reader  to consider that such a large work on many everyday creatures must also contain “the storie of this Rhinoceros, as the outward shape and picture of him appeareth rare and admirable to his eies, differing in every part from all other beasts, from the top of his nose to the tip of his taile…” The work concludes with useful indices of Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, German and Greek names for each of the beasts featured.

The second part is the first English translation of the last of Gesner’s works on animals, on Snakes and Insects.  Unlike his history of Quadrupeds, it begins with an essay on the “Divine, Morall and Naturall” elements of serpents – acknowledging the problematic place of snakes in the history of creation, and moving onto a technical discussion of their anatomy. The work is also distinct from its predecessor in its more consistent (and useful) inclusion of medical authorities and recipes for antidotes. The classification system however is less precise, as if this later work of Gesner’s was more of a catch-all for nature’s miscellany. After Asps, there is discussion of Bees, Flies, Caterpillars, and reptiles such as crocodiles, toads, lizards, turtles, and even dragons and sea serpents. Perhaps more than the streamlined History of Foure-Footed Beastes, the untidiness and slight confusion of this work shows Gesner’s innovations for what they were: straddling the divide between the received knowledge of natural history and the push for newer forms of classification through observation that would define zoology. An unusually good, clean copy of a much read work, more often found defective or incomplete.

Edward Topsell (d. 1638?), matriculated from Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1587 and was appointed in 1604 as curate of St. Botolph, Aldersgate. Author of the popular Reward of Religion, lectures on the book of Ruth which reached three editions in his lifetime, his claim to posterity is nevertheless his translation of Gesner’s zoological works.

Conrad Gesner (1516 – 1565), is known as the Pliny of Germany, whose prolific writings are considered the foundations of modern zoology.

ESTC 24123, 24124. Sabin 27228. Wellcome I 6323. Alden 607/93 “On p. 660 is a description of Patagonian giants who clothes themselves with skins of the ‘Su’ with illus. derived from Thevet’s Singularitez de la France antartique, chapt. lvi.” and 608/166 “On p. 141, with illus. is a description of a Brazilian alligator.” Lowndes VII 2698, later ed. On horses, Mennessier de la Lance I p.547 describes in depth the Latin original.


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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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Historia de los animales mas recebidos en el uso de Medicina.

Madrid, Imprenta Real, 1613.


FIRST EDITION. 4to, pp. [16], 454, [2]. 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.



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Quadrupedum omnium bisulcornum historia.

Bologna, Gian Battista Ferroni for Marco Antonio Bernia, 1641.


Folio, pp. (8), 1040, (12). Roman and Italic letter, little Greek; engraved architectural and allegorical title by Gian Battista Coriolano, with rampant lions, nude figures and putti, large historiated and decorated initials, some decorative head- and tail-pieces, numerous detailed woodcut illustrations of animals, large printer’s device on final verso; a bit yellowed, mainly marginal light foxing, old repair to lower outer corner of 851. A good copy in contemporary vellum, yapped edges; early shelf mark on small oval label at head of rear cover; library stamp of Universitetets Zoologiske Museums of Copenhagen and eighteenth-century autograph ‘F. Bollin[?]’ on front endpaper; early duplicate stamp on title.

Second and slightly corrected edition of a ground-breaking investigation into hoofed (ungulate) quadrupeds, first published in 1621. 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 essays was published posthumously by his pupils with the support of the Bolognese Commune.

This vast zoological survey is not confined to scientific information on ungulates, but, in the encyclopaedic style of the author, touches also on their occurrences in European, Egyptian and Arabic literature and figurative art, as well as their meaning in prophecies and mystic symbolism and use in medical preparation. Descriptions of deformed exemplars and mythological creatures, like unicorns and centaurs, are included too. A fine copy of Dürer’s Rhinoceros (p. 884) and one of the earliest depictions of a giraffe (p. 931) stand out amongst the many zoological illustrations. Together with De quadrupedibus solidipedibus, De quadrupedibus digitatis viviparis and De quadrupedibus digitatis oviparis, this work represents one of the earliest and broadest scientific insights into quadrupeds’ features. The Scottish scholar Thomas Dampster (1579-1625) was involved in its publication as professor of humanities at the University of Bologna.

Not in BM STC 17th It. Nissen ZBI, 76; Bibliotheca Osleriana, 1770; Alden, 642/3; Graesse, I, 65.


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Thaumatographia naturalis.

Amsterdam, Guilielm Blaeu, 1632.


FIRST EDITION. 12mo., (xii) 501 (iii). Roman and Italic letter, woodcut initials and tail-pieces, title page with printer’s device of an orrery. Light age browning, otherwise a good clean copy with C17 annotations, in contemporary English calf, covers triple-ruled in blind, spine remounted, all edges red.

FIRST EDITION of Jonston’s most popular work on “admiranda” or wonders of nature organised into ten categories (heaven, earth, and topics relating to meteors, ‘fossils’ or minerals, plants, birds, quadrupeds, insects and ‘bloodless’ animals, fish, and humans). The work draws heavily from classical sources such as Aristotle, Pliny, and Seneca, but also from the more recent work of Aldrovandi, and in the section on plants includes descriptions of the flora and fauna of the New World, as well as tobacco. Each section is headed by a useful index to its contents, and the work concludes with a poem in praise of Jonston by the Bohemian poet Venceslaus Clemens.

John Jonston (1603 – 1675) emigrated from Poland to Scotland in 1622 and studied natural history at St. Andrew’s for four years. He received the degree of Doctor of Physic from both Leyden and Cambridge. Despite the compact size of Thaumaturgia, his earliest work, its wide range of material prefigures his later, large-scale works on Fish, Insects, Birds, and Trees, made possible by his extensive travel through Europe and access to its libraries, as well as first-hand observation.

Venceslaus Clemens (1589 – 1640?), Protestant and prolific Neo-Latin poet, was forced to leave his native Bohemia after the Battle of White Mountain. His Gustavis, printed the same year as the Thaumatographia, describes the anguish of exile and praises Gustavus Adolphus and the victory of the Swedish Army at the Battle of Breitenfeld, which Clemens credits as saving the Protestant cause in Europe.

Garrison-Morton 287 “A compilation of all the contemporary zoological knowledge”. Wellcome I 3477. Alden II 632/48. Not in Shaaber or Sabin.


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Hippostologie, c’est a dire, discours des os du cheval.

Paris, Mamert Patisson, 1599.


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (iv), 23, (i). a⁴ A-F⁴. Roman letter, preface in Italic, some Greek. Foliated woodcut initials and headpieces, engraved architectural title page, with royal arms of Henry IV at head, with his Monogram H at sides, horses at base of columns, six large engravings in text, plus one full page of the complete horse skeleton, early manuscript shelf mark on fly. Light age yellowing, very light marginal spotting, the odd mark or spot. A very good copy, crisp clean on thick paper and with good margins, excellent impressions of the plates, in contemporary vellum over thin paste boards, remains of ties.

Extremely rare and important first, and only, edition of this treatise on the anatomy of the horse, beautifully illustrated with seven exceptional engraved plates by J de Weert, some of the finest and most accurate engravings of horse anatomy of the C16th. This work describes the anatomy of the horse in great detail and with great rigor. The engravings are of such detail that it is even possible to make out the joints of the skull, which are abundantly described.

Remarkably it was the first work dealing specifically with horse anatomy published in France; the only other to touch on the subject was the translation into French of Vegetius’ work on horses of 1563, which, whilst dealing with the horse in general, barely touched on its anatomy, not even distinguishing between bovine and equine. Heroard wrote the work in 1579 and the manuscript was preserved in the library of Château de Chantilly, but it was not published until 1599, a year after the publication in Italy of Carlo Runi’s celebrated ‘L’Anatomia del Cavallo’. Heroard was not aware of Runi’s work.

Heroard, a doctor, was given the title of ‘Médecin en l’Art vétérinaire’ in 1574, the first in France, before becoming physician to Charles IX. He most probably owed this role to the passion that Charles IX had for hunting and horses, and the king’s determination to raise the standard of veterinary medicine, particularly in respect to horses. In his dedication to Henry IV, Heroard justifies his project by arguing for the benefits of presenting farriers with a horse anatomy written in French that they would be able to understand. He also implies Charles IX’s instigation who took “un singulier plaisir à ce qui est de l’art Vétérinaire, duquel le subject principal est le corps du Cheval”. It is probable that the work was intended as the forerunner to a much larger treatise on the anatomy of the horse or a full ‘Traite de tout l’art Veterinaire’ that never appeared.

Heroard’s training was in medicine, and wherever applicable he used the language of human anatomy to describe that of the horse. Forced to invent new terms that were specific to the horse, he initiated the vocabulary of equine anatomy in France. The work was overshadowed by Runi’s anatomy and later ignored. However its importance in the history of veterinary science has now been recognized. “L’étude approfondie de l’Hippostologie d’Héroard montre que celui-ci mérite une place de choix dans l’histoire de l’anatomie vétérinaire. Il est le premier à avoir décrit un squelette entier de cheval en se fondant sur l’étude directe sur squelette. Il fut le premier à donner aux os du cheval des noms français raisonnés.” Aurélien Jeandel “Jean Herouard premiere ‘Veterinaire Francais’. A very good copy of this beautifully illustrated and important work.

BM STC Fr. C16th p. 223. Renouard 192:1. Mortimer French 273. Mennessier de la Lance I p. 617. “Ouvrage assez rare”. Brian J Ford. “Images of Science. A History of Scientific Illustration.” p. 78.


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CRESCENZI, Pietro de


Opera di Agricultura. Ne la quale si contiene a che modo si debbe coltivar la terra, la proprieta’ de tutti e frutti, & herbe; la natura de tutti gli animali.

Venice, Bernardino de Viano de Lexona vercellese, for Melchior Sessa, 1536.


8vo. 392 unnumbered ll., A-Z8 2A-2Z8 3A-3B8 +8 (3B8 blank). Roman letter, naturalistic and foliated woodcut initials on five and six lines, some white-on-black smaller, title within beautiful woodcut border, grotesque foliage interlaced with hybrid animals, cat with mouse on upper margin (Sessa’s device), two dragons at base, at A3 verso ‘accipies’ woodcut within floriated and geometrical border, depicting the author teaching students writing; some underlining in contemporary brown ink, text occasionally crossed-out with pencil. Some foxing to edges, mostly on initial and final quires, erased stamp on first two leaves, a good, fresh copy in contemporary vellum, manuscript title in gothic letter on spine, early manuscript notes on turn ins.

Good copy of the Italian translation of the ‘Opus Ruralium Commodum’ by Pietro de’ Crescenzi, one of the most influential mediaeval treatises in agronomy and agriculture. Translated into many languages, the work was widespread in manuscript from the beginning of the 14th century and in printed editions since 1471. The author, born in Bologna around 1233, was trained both in the Dominican schools and Bologna University, gaining extensive knowledge in logic, medicine, natural sciences and law. His career focused on this last field, and after being appointed ‘iudex’ (judge) he received assignments that took him all over Italy for more than thirty years.

During his travels Crescenzi had the chance to visit a great number of rural villas and farms, developing a passion for agronomy and farming. Once retired, he dedicated himself to the project of writing an agronomical treatise in which to convey knowledge and techniques, ancient and modern, theoretical and practical; his efforts gave birth to the ‘Ruralium Commodum’. In his treatise the author often refers to classical and mediaeval authorities, such as Palladio, Varro, Albertus Magnus, Avicenna and the ‘Geoponika’, but he does not hesitate to confute their thesis, adding extensive considerations based upon the practical experience of the many farmers he had known. An interesting aspect of the essay is the public it was conceived for, the 14th century bourgeoisie, especially the class of jurists and notaries who had invested in farms and lands, and needed to obtain a good yield.

The work, divided into twelve books, provides a well-structured analysis of all the aspects of running a farm: having identified all the requirements that a good farm must satisfy to be chosen, it enumerates the different kinds of plants and how to cultivate them. The third book is devoted to fields and their produce, while the fourth, examining in depth the cultivation of vine and the practice of wine-making, constitutes an excellent source for the history of mediaeval enology. Chapters from six to nine analyse trees and fruits, herbs, woods and gardens, at chapter nine starts a dissertation upon animals, husbandry and veterinary, followed by a chapter devoted to hunting and falconry. The practical, original approach of the treatise is demonstrated by the last two chapters, which after summarizing the contents, reorder them according to the monthly and seasonal farming calendar.

A wonderful practical treatise, of great interest for the development of agriculture, enology and farming practice.

Sander 2240. BM STC It. 16 C, p. 203. Adams C, 2931. Dizionario biografico degli italiani, vol. 30, Roma, Istituto dell’Enciclopedia Italiana, 1984. Simon Bibl. Bac. p.35 “Traité des plus intéressants sur l’art de cultiver la vigne et de faire le vin… le livre IV est entièrement consacré à la vigne et au vin.” Biting p. 105 (1564 edn) “The fourth book is devoted to the vine and wines.”


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RONDELET, Guillaume

Libri de Piscibus Marinis

Lyon, apud Matthiam Bonhomme, 1554.


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.


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