CRESCENTIIS, Petrus de (ca 1230 - ca 1310). Ruralia commoda. [Speier: Peter Drach, ca 1490-95].
Chancery 2o (283 x 201 mm). Collation: A8 B-Q6 R8 S-Z a b i6. 158 leaves. 53 lines and headline, double-column. Gothic types 19:155 (title, headlines), 13:80 (text). 313 woodcuts in text, some repeats. (Some worming throughout occasionally catching letters and images, title and first few leaves with a few pale stains.) Later quarter pigskin incorporating contemporary wooden boards, brass catches and clasps (one clasp lacking, board edges worn, endpapers renewed). Provenance: contemporary inscription on title, few marginalia.
Sixth Latin edition. Along with the German issue also issued by Drach this is THE FIRST ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF CRESCENZI'S "UNQUALIFIED SUCCESS" (Frank J. Anderson, An Illustrated History of the Herbals, NY, 1977, p.67). The Opus ruralium commodorum was "the first major work on agriculture since the days of the Roman Empire... Although there was little that was new or original in Crescenzi's work, it proved to be a popular one from the moment of its inception, and endured as an authority right down to the 18th century" (Anderson, p.66). The woodcuts represent agricultural operations, different kinds of trees and herbs, wine-making and the management of horses and cattle, falcons, bees, etc. Drach issued German edition dated 1 October 1493; the present edition bears no identification of place, printer or date. The two editions are arranged differently, the present ordered alphabetically by Latin name, the German by German name. "Its text and numerous cuts are a wonderful storehouse of country lore" (Arthur M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut, NY, 1963, p.347). RARE: only two copies of this illustrated edition have been sold at auction in the last 25 years according to American Book Prices Current: that of an anonymous owner, sold Sotheby's London, 3 December 1998, lot 142 and the Schwerdt-Jeanson copy, sold Sotheby's Monaco, 28 February 1987, lot 150.
BMC II 499 (IB.8650); Fairfax Murray German 127; GW 7825; Harvard/Walsh 862; HCR 5826; Klebs 310.6; Oates 1126; Pr 1441; Schwerdt I, p.126; Schreiber 3788; Thiébaud 220-221 ("Edition fort rare... Cette illustration est de très loin, la plus copieuse et la plus belle qui ait été faite pour l'Opus ruralium commodorum et faite de cette édition un des plus beaux livres allemands, à figures, de cette époque"); Goff C-969.