FUCHS, LEONHARD. De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes. Basel: Officina Isingriniana, 1542.
Folio, 373 x 245mm, later vellum, front hinge repaired, 2-inch split in rear hinge, endpapers renewed, 4 leaves repaired at fore-edge, occasional light stain, e1 torn without loss, a few small marginal wormholes.
FIRST EDITION, woodcut printer's device on title, repeated on final verso, full-page woodcut portrait of Fuchs on title verso, 509 full-page botanical woodcuts and 3 smaller woodcuts in the text by Veit Rudolph Speckle after Heinrich Füllmaurer and Albert Meyer, woodcut portraits of the three artists on fff5r, woodcut historiated initials in several sizes.
FIRST EDITION OF PERHAPS THE MOST CELEBRATED AND MOST BEAUTIFUL HERBAL EVER PUBLISHED" (PMM). Fuchs, along with Otto Brunfels and Hieronymus Bock, was one of the three German fathers of modern botany. While his main objective in writing De Historia Stirpium Commentarii remained in the tradition of Dioscorides and subsequent herbals, describing plants for their medicinal use, Fuchs also gives accurate botanical descriptions of more than 500 plants. The detailed plant-portraits were highly influential. They were reused in later editions of Fuchs's herbal, successfully compressed in the smaller-format editions of Fuchs, copied in the works of Bock, Dodoens, William Turner, and others, and pirated in contemporary botanical works, a use which Fuchs actively contested. They were drawn from life, largely based on plants in Fuchs's garden at Tübingen, by Albert Meyer, transferred to the woodblock by Heinrich Füllmaurer, and cut into wood by Viet Rudolph Speckle; portraits of the three artists are included in the work, which is one of the earliest such honors accorded contributing artists. The illustrations depict over 400 German plants and 100 foreign plants, including the first description of several recently-discovered American plants, such as maize (mistakenly thought by Fuchs to originate in Turkey), pumpkin, chili pepper, and snap bean.
Adams F-1099; Fairfax Murray German 175; Grolier/Norman, 100 Books Famous in Medicine, 17; Hunt 48; Nissen BBI 658; PMM 69.
Provenance: Balthazar Lemmen, medical doctor of Gladbach, inscription dated 1635 and note dated 1695 stating that he found at a monastery in Rothberg a plant which Fuchs did not believe to be in Germany -- Kenneth M. Mackenzie; Horticultural Society of New York, bookplate.