Herbarius Latinus [with German synonyms]. Mainz: Peter Schoeffer, 84.
Chancery 4to, 217 x 150mm. (8 9/16 x 5 15/16 in.), sixteenth-century German blind-tooled pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, covers with an outer border of acorn and quadrifolium tools surrounding a roll-tooled panel containing an alternating flower and bird tool, inner panels with the same acorn with leafy plant base and quadrifolium tools, spine in four compartments with five double raised bands, two brass and leather clasps; Kyriss shop 173, attributed by Schunke, Palatina, to "Augustus bibliopola" in Freiburg in Breisgau; minor worming and rubbing to covers and spine, inner hinges cracking slightly, repairs to gutters of first two quires, small wormholes to first six or seven and last twenty leaves affecting a few letters, larger repaired wormholes at lower inner margins of first 5 leaves, fol. 22/7 with small hole from adhesion of initial to facing leaf, affecting a letter on verso, a few short marginal tears, marginal dampstaining, some marginal soiling.
Collation: [1 2-21 22 ]. 173 leaves (of 174, lacking blank leaf 1/1), without signatures or foliation. Contents: 1/2r-v: Preface (list of pharmaceutical weights on verso), 1/3r-1/4r table of contents to part 1 (double column), 1/4v blank, 2/1r-20/6v: Text, part 1 (illustrated), 20/7r-v: table of contents to parts 2-7 (double column), 20/8 blank, 21/1r-22/10v: Text, parts 2-7 (unillustrated). Goff variant Bi, with first leaf blank instead of with printed title, and with figures 42 and 48 correctly placed (though misnumbered) and figure 75 misnumbered "73". Types: 7:149A (headings of part 1), 5:118 (headings of parts 2-7), 6:92 (text). 32 lines. 150 numbered half-page woodcuts of plants, COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. One six-line and numerous two- to four-line Lombard initials supplied in red, capital strokes and a few underlinings and paragraph marks in red.
FIRST EDITION, THE FIRST BOOK PRINTED IN GERMANY TO CONTAIN SOLELY BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATIONS, AND THE PROTOTYPE FOR NEARLY ALL LATER FIFTEENTH-CENTURY HERBALS. Although no earlier manuscripts are known, the text, which is largely borrowed from Vincent de Beauvais's Speculum majus, may have been compiled considerably earlier than this first printing. Intended to address the needs of simple laymen who lacked access to physicians, the fairly schematic woodcut depictions of the plants and the descriptions of their properties remain firmly rooted in medieval tradition, although the preface explicitly states that some of the plants were drawn from nature. Most of the species are in fact native to or cultivated in Germany, an unprecedented local specialization that argues against an earlier origin for the work, and points to the possibility that it was compiled at Schoeffer's behest.
The woodcuts were used for this edition only; reverse copies were made for subsequent editions, of which at least 13 appeared before 1501. The 96 chapters of parts 2 to 7, which are unillustrated, treat the classic materia medica, including animal and mineral products as well as fruits, spices, gums and resins, etc. Rare on the market; the last copy to appear at auction was sold at Christie's on 30 June 1971 (lot 21).
H 8443?; Polain (B) 1878; IGI 4675; Proctor 142; BMC I, 139 (IA 288-89); Schreiber 4204; Early Herbals 3; Fairfax Murray German 190; Nissen BBI 2299; Pritzel 10753; Schäfer/von Arnim 151; Stillwell Science III, 402; Ahumada 3; Goff H-62 Bi.
Provenance: Contemporary Latin marginal notes to the table on fol. 1/3, two leaves bound in at end bearing three pages of recipes in Latin in three different contemporary hands; Meiningen, Franciscans, seventeenth-century letterpress book label on fol. 1/2v; Karl und Faber, bookseller's 1937 catalogue description, pasted down inside front cover, sold to: Juan Carlos Ahumada, bookplate and ink stamps on last text leaf and lower pastedown; the present owner.