HERBAL, French. Le Grant Herbier en francoys: Contenant les qualitez vertus: et proprietez des herbes, arbres, gommes, semences, huylles, et pierres precieuses, extraict de plusieurs traictez de Medecine: Comme de Avicenne: Rasis: Constantin: Isaac: Plataire: et ypocras... Imprime nouvellement a Paris. xlviii. Paris: Alain Lotrian, [c. 1533-34].
4to, 182 x 126 mm., 19th-century vellum over pasteboards, edges stained red, inner hinges split, first 2 leaves and front endpaper nearly detached, title soiled and darkened, occasional darkening throughout, fraying to edges of first 2 leaves catching a few letters, 2-inch tear to G1 entering text block, dampstain to last 20 leaves worsening toward the end, two patched holes to last leaf affecting several letters on recto and device on verso, the leaf reinforced with Japanese tissue (obscuring printer's device).
Collation: aa8 bb-cc. dd6 a-z A-F. G8 H-L. M8 N-O. P6. 188 leaves, foliated in part. Bâtarde type 80mm. 41 lines and headline, double column. Title printed in red and black with two woodcuts of plants, large criblé initial, and type ornament half-border, headline on aa2v printed in red, woodcut printer's device on verso of last leaf (Renouard Marques 1079), approximately 306 text woodcuts mainly of plants, 9-line and smaller criblé metalcut and 5-line and smaller woodcut ornamental and historiated initials.
EXTREMELY RARE. A late edition of the only early herbal to have originated in France, first printed c. 1487 under the title Arbolayre. The anonymous text, which circulated in manuscript in the fifteenth century under the title Secrets de Salerne, is a compilation of various medieval sources, but unlike the German and Latin herbals, it derives principally from the Antidotarium, or Circa instans, of Matthaeus Platearius, which it incorporates virtually word for word, with additional material from various Arabic authors including Avicenna and Rhazes. The woodcuts are reduced copies of the cuts from Johann Grüninger's editions of the Gart der Gesundheit. Of the 3 incunable editions and 20 known sixteenth-century editions of the Grant herbier, most are known in only a handful of copies, which usually show traces of heavy use and are often imperfect. On the basis of the printer's materiel Moreau dated this edition, which was shared with Denis Janot, to 1533-34. (The numeral 48 at the end of the title "is often taken for a date, but it is really the number of quires by which the book was priced (?) or taxed, and probably was meant only for the information of the binder"--Hunt, p. 47.) The Hunt copy appears to be the only copy of this edition in an American institution.
Brunet I, 378; Nissen BBI 2336; Hunt 35 (Janot issue, "possibly the Fairfax Murray copy"); Fairfax Murray French 226 (Janot issue); Moreau IV, 707 (listing BN copy [last leaf defective] and 2 copies in the British Library); cf. Anderson, chapter 13, passim, for a discussion of the textual sources.
Provenance: Kenneth K. Mackenzie; Horticultural Society of New York, bookplate.