24 June 2009
FUCHS, Leonhard. Primi de stirpium historia commentariorum tomi vivae imagines. Basel: Isingrin, 1545.
8o (160 x 104 mm). Printer's device on title, 516 woodcuts of plants, each with name in Latin and German. Modern calf.
FIRST EDITION, and first use of these woodcuts. Essentially a botanical picture book, Primi de stirpium historia commentariorum was intended by Fuchs as a "field-guide" to contemporary collectors of plants. After the great success of the Latin and German folio editions of his herbal in 1543, Fuchs saw the need for a more portable and practical handbook of botanical illustrations. For this edition and its German translation, Läbliche Abbildung und contrafaytung aller dreüter, Fuchs oversaw the creation of a woodcut series, which is a smaller version of that used in the first, folio, edition of De historia stirpium. As Fuchs describes in his dedicatory letter to Antonius Fugger, he was incited to have the woodcuts made partly due to the unlicensed appearance of woodcuts in a Ryff-Egenolff edition of Dioscorides, which were clearly reduced copies of his own cuts but which hardly did justice to them. Fuchs wished to prove that the cuts could be successfully and accurately reduced, and states that any comparison between his cuts and the pirated ones will prove which are correct. Nissen (p.46) counts this edition, along with a German-language edition printed at the same time, among the most satisfying, as well as rarest, herbals. Adams F-1127 ; Nissen BBI 661.
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