[Herbarius Latinus]. Tractatus de Virtutibus herbarum. (Venice: Joannes Rubeus and Bernardinus fratres, of Vercelli, 15 March 1509).
4to, 210 x 155 mm., later vellum over pasteboards, title-leaf defective and restored (not affecting text), first quire and final blank restored at gutters, a8v with tracery in red pencil of woodcut on recto, some marginal finger soiling.
150 numbered half-page woodcuts (a few misnumbered), one 5-line white-on-black woodcut initial and numerous smaller initials.
Third Venetian edition of the Herbarius Latinus, the fourth printed in Italy, all but two of the woodcuts reprinted from the earlier editions of Vicenza 1491 and Venice 1499, these two (on n5r and r8r) being copies (the second reversed) of the originals. Like its predecessor, the 1502 Giunta edition, which it reprints page-for-page, this edition repeats the erroneous attribution of the work to Arnaldus de Villanova, which originated in a printer's error in Simon Bevilacqua's Venice 1499 edition; the error was perpetuated in the 1520 Latin edition, but not in the subsequent vernacular editions.
In spite of the long popularity of the Herbarius Latinus in Italy, most of the species depicted are native to Germany: Anderson (p. 86) postulates that its great appeal to the Italian market was due equally to the unillustrated second section, which treats the classic materia medica, the spices, fruits, minerals and animal products that "were commonly available in the shops of apothecaries and spice merchants."
The woodcuts of the Italian editions, originally cut for the 1491 Vicenza edition and transferred to Venice by Simon Bevilacqua for his 1499 edition, are generally considered superior to their German models; Nissen found them more "delicate", and Arber (pp. 192-3) described them as "more ambitious than those in the original German [editions], and, on the whole...more naturalistic."
Adams H-298; Essling 1192; Klebs/Becher 13; NLM/Durling 2268; Sander 614; Wellcome 3103.
Provenance: Contemporary notes on recto of lower flyleaf, later note with geometrical diagram on verso, scattered 17th or 18th-century marginalia --Kenneth K. Mackenzie; Horticultural Society of New York, bookplate, library blind stamp on one leaf.