KNIPHOF, JOHANN HIERONYMUS. Botanica in originali seu herbarium vivum [edited by Johann Gottfried Trampe]. Halle an der Saale: J. G. Trampe, 1759-64.
12 centuries in 4 vols., 371 x 235 mm., contemporary German calf gilt, rebacked preserving original backstrips, corners restored, edges gilt and gauffred at head and tail of spines, some chipping to board edges, lacking the general index printed in 1767, some offsetting and showthrough throughout, index leaves to centuries 3 and 4 inlaid, plate 656 mounted, plate 631 with traces of paper adhered from facing page, short marginal tears to plates 501 and 909, small library ink stamps on all plates, plates numbered in modern pencil.
MOST COMPLETE EDITION, LARGE-PAPER ISSUE, Centuries I-V from the second issue (reprinted on larger paper for new subscribers), the remaining Centuries from the first issue, 12 letterpress titles surrounded by hand-colored and color-printed nature-printed borders of flowers, leaves and plants (title to Century VI also with butterflies), each century with index leaf or leaves (14 leaves in all), this copy without the general index dated 1767 called for by Pritzel, 2-leaf dedication to Frederic V, King of Denmark, bound in at front, 20 pp. preliminary text (in Centuries I, VI and VII), woodcut head- and tail-pieces, 1200 plates of nature-printed plants, color-printed, most with added hand-coloring, each with letterpress caption cross-referencing Linnaeus, Species plantarum and C. G. Ludwig, Definitiones generum plantarum, plates 534 and 537 with pasted down letterpress correction slips, the plants arranged alphabetically within each century.
ONE OF THE EARLIEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL BOTANICAL WORKS WITH NATURE-PRINTED ILLUSTRATIONS AND ONE OF THE FIRST BOTANICAL PLATE BOOKS TO CITE LINNAEUS'S Species plantarum (1753), and to use the Linnaean binomials. Kniphof's first experimental work of nature-printing appeared in 1733, and various partial issues and editions appeared in the following years. The Hunt collection (534) contains a variant preliminary issue of the plates of this edition with title-page and captions in manuscript, dated 1748-51. Of this final and most complete edition, Ernst Fischer recorded only 17 copies, some with uncolored plates and some imperfect, including only 2 complete copies of the large-paper issue. Not only does this edition omit plants that appeared in previous issues (cf. Hunt) and include others not previously illustrated, but copies differ among themselves, since only a few impressions could be taken from each plant. In this copy, the titles of Centuries I-V and X are printed from the same setting of type, dated 1763, with the part numbers either reset or (in part IV) supplied in manuscript. The titles of the remaining centuries are dated as follows: Century VI, 1759, VII, 1760, VIII, 1761, IX, 1762, XI, 1764, XII, 1764 (the last two from the same setting of type with only the part numbers modified).
Kniphof (1704-63), professor of medicine at the University of Erfurt from 1737, became professor of anatomy, surgery and botany from 1745. The earliest experiments in "self-printing" or nature-printing, consisting of smoke-blackening dried specimens of plants and imprinting their soot-laden image manually between two sheets of paper, are thought to date to the 15th century. Kniphof cites the experiments in 1707 of a Mr. Hessel in America, which were introduced in Europe and improved upon by D. Bruckmann in around 1730. Kniphof's innovation, developed in conjunction with his first printer Johann Michael Funcke, was to take the process a step further, through the use of printer's ink instead of lampblack, and a flat printing press. He was also apparently the first to introduce "'a new feature.... that of colouring the impressions by hand according to Nature, a proceeding which though certainly contributing to the beauty and fidelity of the effect, yet had the disadvantage of frequently rendering indistinct... the tender structure and finer veins and fibres'" (Blunt and Stearn, p. 156, citing H. Bradbury, Nature Printing, 1856). In fact, however, most of the coloring of Kniphof's illustrations was produced by variously colored printing inks (largely shades of green), hand-coloring being principally reserved for the flowering portions of the plants.
Ernst Fischer, "Zweihundert Jahre Naturselbstdruck", Gutenberg-Jahrbuch 1933, pp. 186-213; Dunthorne 170; Nissen BBI 1076; Pritzel 4752; Stafleu & Cowan TL2 3763.
Provenance: The Massachusetts Horticultural Society, bookplates and library inkstamps on plates (sale, Sotheby's New York, 1 October 1980, lot 58, $17,500) -- Robert de Belder (sale, Sotheby's London, 28 April 1987, lot 193). (4)