[MANUSCRIPT]. A SCIENTIFIC MANUSCRIPT, in Latin, manuscript on paper [Germany, ca 1400]
A striking testament to medieval scientific knowledge: a rare compilation of astronomical texts, including an astrolabe model, various apparently unpublished medical treatises, and an illustrated herbal.
In the middle of the volume is a section concerning the astrolabe (ff. 108-115) which begins Circa noticia astrolabii, and occupies eight pages. Facing the last page of the treatise is a model astrolabe, with a movable volvelle attached to the center, showing exactly how that important instrument should be made. On the back of the astrolabe are added notes concerning the mathematical quadrant, and there follows a longer dissertation on the planets, their aspects, conjunctions and influences.
At the end is an herbal fully illustrated with color drawings of botanical specimens. The herbal occupies 110 pages (ff. 189-243 [i.e. 242]), the illustrations and text on opposite pages, the illustrations are on the rectos and versos of 27 leaves with multiple botanical subjects on each page illustrating approximately 350 plant specimens in contemporary color, each carefully delineated and named. On one of the pages (f. 241) showing various pine trees is found a small figure collecting sap from a pine tree to make turpentine.
The greater part of the manuscript deals with medical subjects; among the chapters appearing are: de febribus, de appoplexia, de melancolia, de dolore frontis, de obtalmia, de dolore oculorum, de dolore aurium, de sanguine ex naribus, de fetore oris, de fystulis in ore, de dolore dentium, de asmate, de sincope et tremore cordis, de splene, de pulmone, de pleurisi, de dyssenteria, de dyarria, de inflatione ventris, de colica, de ydropisi, de calculo, de ardore urine, de dybete, de gomorreo, de satiriasis, de sterilitate, de inflatione testium, de restrictione libidinis, de provocatione menstruorum, de impedientibus conceptionis, de aborsu, de difficultate partus, de arthetica, de veneno, de emoroydibus, tractatus de phlebotomia, tractatus de passionibus mulierum, de gravitate matricis, de regimine infantum, collecta de urinis, Egidius de urinis, idem de pulsibus, de aquis divesis, de vino, de aqua balsami, de aqua vite, de auro potabili, and many others all listed in a contemporary index at the front.
Provenance: Evelyn Philip Shirley (1812-1882) of Ettington Hall in Warwickshire (bookplate marked “no. 6”); with A.S.W. Rosenbach (catalogue 1938 [dating the manuscript ca 1385], $4000).
147 x 105mm. 256 leaves, early foliation: 2 leaves index, one unfoliated leaf (text on verso), text on recto and versos of ff. 1-258, red penwork initials (one blue), capital strokes, underlings, and some marginalia in red (apparently lacks 6 leaves, but bound too tightly, last leaf cut in half and mounted as pastedown, ff. 132 and 133 torn at gutter margin crossing text, some marginal soiling). 15th-century blind-ruled calf over boards, later brass clasp and catch (upper cover nearly detached, some wear); quarter morocco slipcase.