PLINIUS SECUNDUS, Gaius (23-79). Historia Naturalis. Edited by Joannes Andreae de Buxiis (1417-1475), Bishop of Aleria. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1472.
Royal 2° (409 x 269mm). Collation: [112 28 3-810 912 10-1510 168 17-2710 286 29-3010 31-358 3610 3712] (1/1 blank, 1/2 Pliny the Younger's letter to Marcus and Tacitus, and citations from Suetonius, Tertullian and Eusebius of Caesarea, 1/3v blank, 1/4r Book I: author's dedication to Domitian, 1/5r tables and indices, 3/1 Book 2, 37/9r colophon, editor's address to Pope Paul II, 37/10v-12 blank). 349 leaves (of 358, lacking 4/2.9, 10/4.7 [replaced with early blank sheet], 15/5.6, and without first and last 2 blank leaves). 50 lines, tables in two columns. Type: 1:115R. 12-line initial space opening each book, 2-line initial spaces with printed guide-letters. CONTEMPORARY VIENNESE DECORATION, the major initials filled with an assortment of fantastical beasts, dragons, fish, birds, and human faces, a few major initials plain in pink and yellow, occasional minor initials in red. (Lower margin of first 4 leaves and one other at head reinforced, short marginal wormtrack in first quire, occasional staining or spotting, light dampstaining at end.) 17th-century German blindtooled pigskin over wooden boards, spine lettered in gilt, red edges (lightly rubbed); modern green morocco-backed folding box. Provenance: Johannes Tichtl, medical doctor at Vienna (c.1440-1506; annotations by him and his associates [some just shaved], transcribed on the last blank page is an oration given at the installation of clergy at the University of Vienna in 1486) -- Georg Hobsinger of Passau, medical doctor at Regensburg (inscription at end recording his purchase of the book in 1506 from Johannes' son, Cosmas) -- modern illegible ink-stamp.
THIRD EDITION of Pliny's encyclopedia of knowledge, the first comprehensive examination of the natural sciences and the arts, famously containing some 20,000 facts. Among its subjects are the fine arts and literature, in addition to cosmology, geography, medicine, zoology, botany, mineralogy, anthropology and many others.
ACQUIRED SOON AFTER PUBLICATION AND EXTENSIVELY ANNOTATED BY JOHANNES TICHTL, MEDICAL DOCTOR AT VIENNA, AND BY HIS ASSOCIATES. He states at the end that he bought the book on 13 December 1476, 3 days before he received his degree as Doctor of Medicine at St. Stephen's Cathedral. A native of Grein, upper Austria, Tichtl became a noted physician and academic, Dean of the medical faculty in 1477, and Professor of Medicine in 1482, appointed personally by Emperor Frederick III. Among his patients were Bishop Alexander of Forli, papal legate; Gräfin von Bosing; the Queen of Hungary; and the monks and nuns of Klosterneuburg. Tichtl belonged to an early circe of humanists at Vienna well before the arrival of Conrad Celtis in 1492, and later became a founding member, along with Celtis, of the humanist society Sodalitas Litteraria Danubiana in 1497. The Tichtelgasse in Vienna commemorates the humanist doctor.
Tichtl's engagement with the text of Pliny is multi-layered. He records biographical information such as his academic degrees, the date of his marriage, and birth of his first son, but primarily his annotations concern Pliny. They range from mere note bene indications to explication of passages touching on medicine and medical remedies, and critical readings of Pliny, correcting, countering, or expanding on certain passages, usually of a medical nature. The annotations are in red, green and brown inks, the colour apparently indicative of a hierarchy. Hands other than Tichtl's also appear, apparently belonging to colleagues or students. Medicine and the natural world (especially horticulture and arboriculture, stones and metals) are their chief concern, but marvelous facts and wondrous achievements are regularly noted, as are geographical place-names. Additional facts are also added, such as the invention of printing (9/3v): libros aere scribere imprimendo germania.
The present volume is particularly interesting in light of Tichtl's so-called Tagebuch, a copy of Avicenna, Canon Medicinae, book III (Padua: 23 December 1472, now in the Austrian National Library) which Tichtl acquired in 1475 and filled with a journal of his daily life up to 1495. It is an important source for contemporary life, particularly under the Hungarian occupation of Vienna before Maximilian's return in 1490. Whereas the Tagebuch has long been known and studied (published 1855), his copy of Pliny was unknown until its appearance at auction in 1998. It is the source for Tichtl's date of death, 1506, as reported by the volume's next owner, Georg Hobsinger. Hobsinger himself settled as a medical doctor at Regensburg, where he co-authored a work on devotional instruction for the sick, the dying, and for pregnant women.
The highly appealing painted initials of fabulous beasts are contemporary, probably Viennese decoration; the incorporation of knives may be a punning reference to Tichtl's profession.
HC *13089; BMC V, 172 (IC. 19661-5); CIBN P-459; IGI 7880; Essling 3; BSB-Ink. P-601; Bod-Inc. P-360; Klebs 786.3; Goff P-788.