BRUNSCHWIG, HIERONYMUS. [Kleines Destillierbuch (German)]. Liber de arte distillandi, de simplicibus. Das buch der rechten kunst zu distilieren die eintzigen ding. Strassburg: Johann (Reinhard) Grüninger, 8 May 1500.
Median folio, 295 x 205mm. (11 9/16 x 8 1/16 in.), eighteenth-century blind-panelled sheep, two metal clasps (one broken), edges speckled red, upper hinge starting, covers rubbed, scratched and slightly wormed, several wormholes to first ten leaves, one to two wormholes to the next 40 leaves and to 20 leaves at end, fore-borders of double-page woodcut cropped, one-inch tear to E1 catching woodcut initial and a letter on verso, four or five short marginal tears or repairs, stain to T1v, small adhesive stain to EE2v and EE3r obscuring three letters, a few other minor stains, some dampstaining, occasionally blurring rubricated initials.
Collation: A-D8 E-Z6 AA-OO6. 230 leaves with signatures, fols. 19-227 foliated (including OO6 blank). Types: 19:280G (title); 17:145G (title, headlines, chapter headings); 26:98G (title and text); 15:64G (inscription on woodcut, P3r). Double column. 47 lines and headline. Title with large woodcut of people frolicing, drinking, etc. in a garden setting with two distilling furnaces, double-page woodcut on C4v-C5r of a tray with floral border bearing a scroll with verses, four large woodcuts (3/4-page or larger) on A2r, C1r, E1r and Z2r, and 238 text woodcuts (including repeats): four large and 21 small woodcuts of stills, furnaces and other distilling apparatuses, and 226 small woodcuts of plants and animals within decorative borders; ten-, five- and three-line historiated and ornamental woodcut initials, spaces for initials with guide letters, red Lombard capitals supplied, some flourished, a few paragraph marks and underlinings, THE WOODCUTS AND INITIALS FINELY COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND.
FIRST EDITION. This last of the fifteenth-century herbals was the first to be concerned with the chemistry and essential oils of plants. Brunschwig based the first part of the work, an exposition of the methods and apparatus of distillation of plant or animal products, mainly by steam, on his own observations. The second part, a discussion of plants and their attributes, is a compendium of the traditional herbal texts, with the same illustrations (see below), and the third part, also based on the herbal format, is a list of distilled plant remedies grouped by ailment.
Most of the large woodcuts were previously used in Brunschwig's Chirurgia, printed by Grüninger in 1497. The majority of the small woodcuts of plants are reprints, with added decorative borders, of the blocks originally used by Grüninger in his edition of the Gart der Gesundheit, printed c. 1485-86; two or three of the cuts still bear the chapter numeration of the Gart (eg., the first cut on L6r).
HC 4021*; Klebs 227.1; Schreiber 3644; Schramm XX p. 24; Proctor 493; BMC I, 114 (IB 1495); GW 5595; Dibner Heralds of Science 37; Nissen BBI 262; Pritzel 1293; Stillwell Science VI 829; Ahumada 25; Goff B-1227.
Provenance: Occasional contemporary marginalia in German (some notes cropped); illegible inscription on title; Juan Carlos Ahumada, bookplate; the present owner.