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FUCHS, Leonhard (1501-1566). New Kreterbuch, Basel: Michael Isingrin, 1543.
FUCHS, Leonhard (1501-1566). New Kreterbuch, Basel: Michael Isingrin, 1543.

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FUCHS, Leonhard (1501-1566). New Kreterbuch, Basel: Michael Isingrin, 1543.

2o (368 x 238 mm). Small woodcut printer's device on title, large device on final verso, 517 botanical woodcuts by Viet Rudolph Speckle after Heinrich Fullmarer and Albert Meyer, woodcut portraits of the three artists on penultimate verso, one large and numerous smaller (5-line) woodcut Schwabacher initials, a few white-on-black historiated woodcut initials from the first edition. (Short repaired marginal tear to title-leaf, short tears into B3 and Gg6 affecting woodcut or text, fol. y4 creased from paper flaw, light dampstaining to lower gutter margins, a few other small marginal tears, light foxing in quires Gg-Hh.) Contemporary alum-tawed pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, tooled in blind with heads-in-medallion, saint and floriate rolls, contemporary manuscript title on spine, remains of two fore-edge clasps, edges stained green (rubbed, tears along upper joint, headbands defective). Provenance: Ludwig Pfyffer of Luzern (1523-1594) (fine 17th-century oval portrait miniature, inscribed with biographical information, pen-and-ink on vellum, on front pastedown); his son ?Christofall Pfyffer (1626 ownership inscription); DP (early 20th-century bookplate).

FIRST EDITION IN GERMAN of the most influential herbal of the 16th century. First published in Latin in 1542, Fuchs' magnificent herbal was the second book, following Brunfels' Herbarum vivae eicones (1530) to contain lifelike illustrations of plants. The sheer scope of Fuchs' work--over 400 German and 100 foreign plants are illustrated--, the beauty of the woodcuts, and the range and accuracy of Fuchs' scholarship make it in many ways superior to Brunfels' work.

As he explains in the preface to this German edition, Fuchs was inspired to publish this vernacular edition by his wish to reach a broader audience of laymen unversed in Latin. He further broadened the appeal of this new edition by appending an additional index of illnesses treatable through herbal remedies, and by adding to the descriptions 5 new plants (Hunerbis, Spiziger Wegetich, klein Schlangen kraut, Knabenkrautweible das mittel, and Kuchenschell), and 6 additional woodcuts. The woodcuts, engraved by Fullmarer and Speckle after Albert Meyer -- possibly the first illustrators to include their self-portraits in a printed book -- had a far-reaching influence on the subsequent development of botanical illustration. Reused by Fuchs for later editions, reproduced in reduced size for his and others' smaller format herbals, and extensively pirated, the blocks thenselves and their later incarnations continued to appear in botanical books as late the 18th century.

A VERY GOOD COPY. Johnston, Cleveland Collections 62; Nissen BBI 659; Pritzel 3139; Stafleu & Cowan 1910.
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