[LUDWIG, Fuerst von Anhalt-Koethen (1579-1650)]. Der Fruchtbringenden Geselschaft Nahmen, Vorhaben Gemaehlde und Woerter. Frankfurt am Main: Matthaeus Merian, [1617-1628-]1646.
4 parts in one volume, 4o (197 x 149 mm). 4 letterpress titles within typographic borders, 4 engraved titles and 398 engravings (of 400--without the two engravings on conjugate leaves Bb1.4, but with the printed text) by Matthaeus Merian, each with identification of printed initials supplied in neat contemporary manuscript (plate 190 [Bbb4] with diagonal repaired tear at corner crossing image, plate 387 [Gggg1] with circular patch in blank portion of sky in image). (\\h3 with internal repaired tear crossing text, Hh2 with small marginal repair crossing signature mark, few other small marginal repairs.) 17th-century vellum over stiff boards (a little soiled). Provenance: "C.W. von ?" (contemporary signature on first title, possibly his identification of member's initials).
FIRST EDITION OF THIS RARE AND BEAUTIFULLY PRODUCED WORK, THE ONLY FLORILEGIUM BY THE FAMOUS TOPOGRAPHICAL ARTIST AND ENGRAVER MATTHAEUS MERIAN. Each plate depicts a single flower, fruit or tree set against a background of German towns, countryside or garden. "This book shows the emblems and devices of the members of a society founded in Germany in 1617 with the object of promoting not only human virtues, honesty and courtesy, but also to support, purify and improve the German lanquage. Each member was given as an emblem a plant, flower, tree, or bush and all the 400 plates show this, each in a different landscape background. The initials of each member are printed at the bottom of each page. The author was the Prince of Anhalt, whose emblem 'Der Nährende' is shown on plate 2. The book is therefore really a fine 17th century herbal and is certainly ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ENGRAVED BOOKS OF THE 17TH CENTURY" (Praz, p.342). A contemporary reader, presumably a member of the Fruchtbringenden geselschaft, has identified each of the member's initials in this copy, neatly writing their name at the foot of the page. Most of the plates published by Matthaeus Merian were not engraved by him. Here, he was responsible for every plate. Landwehr, German Emblem Books 402; Nissen BBI 1343.