MATTIOLI, Pietro Andrea (1500/1501-1577). New Kreüterbuch. Translated by George Handsch. Prague: Georg Melantrich for himself and Vincenzo Valgrisi, 1563.
2° (372 x 235mm). Title printed in red and black with woodcut double device of Melantrich and Valgrisi, repeated on final leaf 4D6v, woodcut Melantrich device on 4D5v, woodcut portrait of Mattioli on 2/2r and 810 woodcut illustrations [Nissen count] by Georgio Liberale and Wolfgang Meyerpeck, woodcut initials. (Some variable light browning and spotting, some light dampstaining, principally confined to the margins, a few leaves with short marginal tears.) Contemporary German blind-tooled pigskin over bevelled wooden boards, boards with central panels of repeated fruit tools, enclosed by figural rolls and foliate rolls, bands above and below the panel bearing initials and a date, metal cornerpieces and fittings for fore-edge clasps, spine titled in manuscript (darkened, rubbed and scuffed, 4 cornerpieces with small losses, lacking clasps, reinforced crack on inner side of upper board, minor wear on endleaves). Provenance: H.F.N. 1564 (binding) -- M. Bellinger (19th-century inscription on front endpaper) -- 19th-century marginal annotations referring to Linnaean names in a number of hands -- Kenneth K. MacKenzie (1877-1934, bequest in October 1934 to:) -- The Horticultural Society of New York (bookplate recording gift and marginal blindstamp).
FIRST EDITION IN GERMAN OF MATTIOLI'S COMMENTARII IN A CONTEMPORARY GERMAN BINDING, and the 'first appearance of the fine series of large woodcuts made by Giorgio Liberale and Wolfgang Meyerpeck ... The woodcuts are an important advance over the fairly mediocre ones used in Mattioli's earlier works' (Hunt). Although Mattioli wrote on a range of subjects and published translations of non-medical works, he is most celebrated for his work on botany and medicine, and of these works his best known are his translations of, and commentaries upon, Dioscorides' De medica materia. Mattioli's first Italian translation from the Greek was published in Venice in 1544, and its 'original purpose was relatively modest: it was to provide doctors and apothecaries with a practical treatise in Italian with a commentary that would enable them to identify the medicinal plants mentioned by Dioscorides' (DSB IX, p.179). Further, expanded editions followed in 1548, 1550 and 1552, and the success of these editions led Mattioli to translate the work into Latin in 1554. This translation was 'enriched by synonyms in various languages, provided with a special commentary, and accompanied by numerous illustrations valuable for the identification of Dioscorides' simples [which] rendered the work accessible to scholars throughout Europe. From then Mattioli's name was linked with that of Dioscorides' (DSB). This wealth of additional material transformed Dioscorides' work from an antiquarian text into a contemporary physician's vade mecum, enhanced by Mattioli's own observations and many of his own drawings, which remained in print virtually continuously until the 18th century. The text printed here is that of the botanical portion of Mattioli's Commentarii, without the text of Dioscorides, but prefaced with the 'Epistola nuncupatoria' in Latin. BM(NH) III, 1268; Cleveland Collections 89; Hunt 91; Nissen BBI 1310.