14 October 2003
PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF ANITA PEEK GILGER, M.D.
BESLER, Michael Rupert (1607-1661). Gazophylacium rerum naturalium e regno vegetabili, animali et minerali. [Nuremberg:] 1642.
Broadsheet 2o (377 x 268 mm). Engraved title and 34 engraved plates of specimens and curiosities from Besler's cabinet (some mostly pale dampstaining to lower half of sheets). Contemporary speckled calf (some light staining, light wear to joints and corners). Provenance: Earl of Hopetoun (armorial bookplate); purchased from Francis Edwards, 1970.
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.
Copies of the first edition are 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. No other copies are recored as auction in American Book Prices Current for the last twenty five years. Hunt 238; Nissen ZBI 346; Pritzel 747.
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