• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2170

    Important Botanical Books

    24 June 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 26

    BOCK, Hieronymus (1489?-1554). Kreüterbuch, darin Underscheid Würckung und Namen der Kreüter so in Deutschen Landen wachsen. Strassburg: Wendel Rihel, 1 April-28 August 1546.

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    BOCK, Hieronymus (1489?-1554). Kreüterbuch, darin Underscheid Würckung und Namen der Kreüter so in Deutschen Landen wachsen. Strassburg: Wendel Rihel, 1 April-28 August 1546.

    3 parts in one volume, 2o (308 x 204 mm). Separate title page to part III, 477 woodcuts by David Kandel. (Quires Kk and LL1-2 supplied at an early date from another, colored, copy, lacking 14 final leaves (?of index), small hole in one leaf affecting a few letters, browned, light staining and dampstaining, a few clean tears.) Contemporary blindstamped pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, sides panelled with roll tools, two brass fore-edge catches (without clasps). (Scuffed, small hole in leather on front cover, slight worming inside front board extending to blank margins of first few leaves). Provenance: Plant names added in a contemporary hand, inscription dated 1554 deleted from rear pastedown; Jesuit college, inscription dated 1649 (place-name effaced) on title; inscription on title dated 1787; Kenneth K. Mackenzie; Horticultural Society of New York, bookplate; An Important Botanical Library (sale Christie's New York, 4 June 1997, part II, lot 202).

    FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION. Bock was the first botanist to describe plants in a systematic manner that was based uniquely on his own observations. His aim, as stated on the title-page, was revolutionary: to describe the characteristics and effects of the plants of Germany, a very different study from all previous herbals, which had been concerned with identifying the plants of Dioscorides. He carried this out with unprecedented clarity of expression and of thought: "Brunfels's herbal had not sold well, and it was probably in part Bock's inability to persuade his publisher to pay for illustrations for the first part of his Kreüter Buch... that obliged him to describe in detail... facts that Brunfels and Fuchs mistakenly believed to have been adequately dealt with by their artists" (Blunt and Raphael, p. 129). "His descriptions of flowers were remarkably clear...and they indicated that he comprehended things by which his predecessors had been completely baffled. He recognized the corolla, stamens, and pistils as essential parts of many flowers, and he is probably the first botanist of the 16th century to feel the necessity for some sort of classification" (Hunt I, 66 [1560 Latin edition]). His arrangement of plants within three broad categories of trees, shrubs and herbs, "paved the way for [the] development [of the concepts of genus and species] by such later botanists as Cesalpino, Bauhin and...Linnaeus" (Anderson, An Illustrated History of the Herbals, p. 132). Bock's descriptions, moreover, treated the entire life cycle of plants instead of being limited only to the period of their flowering. Blunt and Raphael, pp. 129-132; Hunt 66 (1560 Latin edition); Nissen BBI 182; Stafleu & Cowan TL 2, 575.


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766