BESLER, Michael Rupert (1607-1661). Gazophylacium rerum naturalium e regno vegetabili, animali et minerali. [Nuremberg], 1642.
Broadsheet 2o (374 x 258 mm). Engraved title and 34 engraved plates of specimens and curiosities from Besler's cabinet, ALL BUT ONE PRINTED ON BLUE PAPER, plate 13 with marbling on verso (not affecting image on recto). Letterpress table at end (dated 1663) and plate 4 printed on plain paper. Contemporary boards, near-contemporary vellum reinforcement along spine and each edge, titled in manuscript on spine and front cover (some light soiling).
FIRST EDITION. The Gazophylacium portrays the plants, animals and minerals, with occasional brief identifying or descriptive captions on the plate, in the natural history cabinet first formed by Basilius Besler and his brother Hieronymous, and continued by Hieronymous's son, Michael Rupert Besler. Among the typical Wunderkammer contents are a unicorn horn, a hyoidal bone of a swan, a beak of a hornbill, a bird of paradise, a carved nautilus shell, an "Arcimboldo" grotesque of shells, pyritised ammonites, asbestos, "ruin" marble, engraved gems and antique coins, along with unica such as Johann Zizka's sword. Many rare plants and birds are figured, along with ethnographic objects such as a Brazilian Indian girdle made from the nuts of the Brazilian tree Cerbera ahovai.
VERY RARE; it was reprinted in 1716, and it is this reprint that is more commonly found in most libraries (i.e. the earliest edition listed in NUC is 1716). In 2001 Christie's London sold a unique copy of the Gazophylacium containing original drawings for the engravings formerly from the collection of the great naturalist Christoph Jacob Trew for £50,000. The only other copy recorded in American Book Prices Current in at least thirty years is the Anita Peek Gilger copy, sold Christie's New York, sold 14 October 2003. Hunt 238; Nissen ZBI 346; Pritzel 747.