ACOSTA, Cristval (ca.1525-ca.1594) and Garcia da ORTA (ca. 1500-1568). Tractado delas drogas, y medicinas de las Indias Orientales, con sus plantas debuxadas al bivo. Burgos: Martin de Victoria, 1578.
4o (187 x 128 mm). Collation: 4 8 A-Z8 Aa-Gg8 Hh4. 256 leaves. Roman and italic types. Architectural title-page border incorporating the arms of Burgos, oval woodcut portrait of "Christophorus Acosta Africanus," 45 full-page woodcuts of New World plants (two partially colored by an early hand), 2 woodcuts of elephants, 8-line historiated woodcut initials. (Light stains to upper corner of some leaves and to colophon leaf, light browning.) Contemporary Spanish tan goatskin, covers with blind and gilt-ruled panels with large gilt fleurons at corners, central panels with gilt oval arms block of "D Fran[cisco] Cabrera I Bovadilla Mar[ques] d[e] Moia," brass clasps and catches, unlettered spine sparingly gilt with a tiny rooster tool in each of the four compartments, CONTEMPORARY DECORATED EDGES, gilt and gauffered, fore-edges with circular outlined cartouche enclosing title in a neat italic hand, at top the initial "R," at base the date "1593" (spine slightly chipped in two places, wear at extremities, one clasp lacking).
FIRST EDITION of an essential work on non-European flora and Indian plants with medicinal properties, which greatly influenced the subsequent development of taxonomy. "Acosta, a Portuguese physician and botanist, traveled to the East Indies as a soldier before 1550 ... In Goa he met with the botanist Garcia d'Orta, whose Coloquios dos simples [published in Goa in 1563] was the first European account of Indian materia medica and tropical medicine" (Norman). Acosta's treatise is an illustrated adaptation of da Orta's Goan publication. Da Orta had spent many years in Goa and extensively studied the local flora in search of plants with potential medicinal applications. Acosta's work "clearly surpasses the earlier work in its systematic, first-hand observations of both East and West Indian plants and its illustrations after Acosta's own accurate drawings." Among the Asian plants described and illustrated with bold woodcuts are cinnamon, mango, tamarind, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, cardomom, coconut, sandalwood, carambola, pineapple, sugar cane and the rubber tree.
A fine copy in a gold-tooled binding from the Renaissance library of a noble Spanish bibliophile. Alden-Landis 587/19; Blunt-Raphael pp.145-148; Garrison-Morton 1819; Hunt I, 130; NLM/Durling 1064; Pritzel 13; Sabin 113; Stafleu-Cowan TL2.23; Waller 183. Norman 1.