[HERBARIUS LATINUS]. Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum. Venice: Simon Bevilaqua, 14 December 1499.
Chancery 4o (219 x 156 mm). Collation: A4 a-x8. 172 leaves, including final blank. Gothic type 22,24:120 (title); Roman types 23:112 (text and headings, part 1); 18:28 (text, parts 2-7). 28 lines (part 1), 37 lines (parts 2-7). 150 numbered half-page woodcuts of plants (a few misnumbered), two white-on-black woodcut initials, capital spaces with guide letters (few small wormholes occasionally catching letters or image, m4-q7 with small filled marginal wormtrack). Eighteenth century mottled calf, morocco lettering-pieces, marbled endpapers (some light wear). Provenance: some contemporary marginalia; Massachusetts Horticultural Society, Albert C. Burrage Fund (bookplate dated 1932).
A TALL COPY of the second Italian edition of the Herbarius, and the 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 that 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 later editions. Ahumada 7; BMC V, 524; BSB-Ink. H-104; Early Herbals 11; Essling 1190; Harvard/Walsh 2540; HC 1807*; IGI 5677; Klebs 506.11; Klebs (H) "Dated, h"; Nissen BBI 2308; Pellechet 1315; Pr 5415; Sander 612; Wellcome 3101; Goff H-69.