COLOMBINA, GASPARO. Il Bomprovifaccia, per Sani, & Amalati. Padua: Pietro Paolo Tozzi, 1621. Small 8vo, 148 x 108 mm., contemporary stiff vellum, title lettered in ink on upper and lower edges, title badly soiled and stained, dampstaining, most severe at beginning and end, last leaf (containing list of pagination errors) defective. FIRST AND ONLY EDITION. Collation: [paragraph sign]4 [dagger]4 [double para. sign] 8 A-Z8. 200 leaves. Roman type. Engraved printer's device on title, 138 woodcuts of plants in the text (one or two repeated, honey woodcut on P3r printed upside down), woodcut tailpiece ornaments, one woodcut opening initial. Pritzel 1821.
This extremely rare popular herbal is a remarkably late incarnation of the fifteenth-century herbal. Colombina's text follows very closely that of the Italian 16th-century Herbolario, which is in fact cited, as the "Herbario detto de SS. Cosmo, e Damiano", in the list of authors consulted on the verso of the title (including the classic herbal sources of Platearius, Avicenna, Dioscorides, Mesue and Serapion as well as the recent Italian herbalists Mattioli and Durante). Most of the woodcuts are exact copies of those used in the 1534 and later Venetian editions of the Herbolario, based on the woodcuts of the Hortus Sanitatis (and providing here an odd contrast with the more typically seventeenth-century woodcut tail-piece ornaments). These simplistic depictions of plants, nearly indistinguishable one from the other, were already anachronistic in the sixteenth century; their survival and reuse by provincial printers a century later, while surprising, is indicative of the persistent popularity of the earliest and most primitive form of the herbal in rural areas. This unusual edition may in fact simply be the sole surviving representative of a quantity of similar cheaply printed 17th and possibly even 18th-century reprints or adaptations of the vernacular Herbarius.
Provenance: 18th-century Italian inscriptions on title (mostly illegible), the heading "Autori consultati" supplied on ink on verso -- Kenneth K. Mackenzie; Horticultural Society of New York, bookplate.