[Herbarius Latinus]. Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum. Venice: Simon Bevilaqua, 14 December 1499.
Chancery 4to, 208 x 155mm. (8 3/16 x 6 1/8 in.), old quarter pigskin over wooden boards, eighteenth-century morocco gilt lettering piece on spine, two brass catches (lacking clasps), title ink-lettered on lower edges, upper cover with old ink lettering, partially obscured by old vellum reinforcing band, lower cover split and with old scotch tape repair, small wormhole through text block from o7 to end, a few tiny marginal wormholes, printing flaw to woodcut initial on A1r, very slight discoloration to a few leaves, occasional light foxing to outer margins, some pale dampstaining to upper margins, title-leaf slightly soiled.
Collation: A4 a-x8. 172 leaves, including final blank, with signatures. Contents: A1r: title, v. blank. A2r-v: Preface, A3r: list of pharmaceutical weights, A3r-A4v: table to part 1, a1r-t6v: Text, part 1, t7r-v: table to parts 2-7, t8r-x7v: Text, parts 2-7, x7v: colophon, x8 blank. Types: 22,24:120G (title); 23:112RB (text and headings, part 1); 18:82RB (text, parts 2-7). 28 lines (part 1), 37 lines (parts 2-7). 150 numbered half-page woodcuts of plants (a few misnumbered, figure 94, Mandragora, printed upside down), two white-on-black woodcut initials, capital spaces with guide letters.
Second Italian edition of the Herbarius, and first of about a dozen Venetian editions. Many of the woodcuts, which were first used in the Vicenza 1491 edition, differ substantially from those of the earlier German editions. "These drawings are more ambitious than those in the original German [editions], and, on the whole, they are more naturalistic. A delightful example, almost Japanese in style, shows an iris at the edge of a stream, from which a graceful bird is drinking. In another picture the fern called 'capillus veneris', which is perhaps intended for the maidenhair, is represented hanging from rocks over water..." (Arber, pp. 192-93).
This edition was also the first to erroneously ascribe the text to Arnaldus de Villa Nova, whose name appears run on with Avicenna's at the head of the preface, the printer having misunderstood the significance of the names printed beneath a woodcut that supposedly represented these two scholars and that was used as head-piece to the preface in the Vicenza 1491 edition. While the woodcut was omitted from this edition, the names were retained, and the misattribution was perpetuated throughout the numerous later editions.
HC 1807*; Klebs 506.11; Klebs (H) "Dated, h"; Early Herbals; Pellechet 1315 (variant?); Essling 1190; Sander 612; IGI 4677; Proctor 5415; BMC V, 524 (IA 23999); Nissen 2308; Ahumada 7; Goff H-69.
Provenance: Contemporary marginalia in two different hands (some underlinings and corrections); Juan Carlos Ahumada, bookplate; the present owner.