The »Herbarius Latinus«, a most important plant incunabula
[Herbarius Latinus]. Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum. Venice: Simone Bevilaqua 1499.
Beschreibung[Herbarius Latinus]. Tractatus de virtutibus herbarum. Venice: Simone Bevilaqua. 14th December 1499. Chancery 4to (21:15 cm).
158 leafs (of 172), sheets b-x8, 140 half-page woodcuts of plants (of 152, nos. I-VIII, X and CXLIII lacking, nos. CXIII and CXIX wrongly bound). Leafs A1-4, a1-8, bl and s7 (a total of 14 leafs) are missing. Half leather binding from the early 18th c. over cardboard with marbled papers, bound on 5 raised bands, and blind stamped ornamentals.
2nd Italian edition of the »Herbarius Latinus«, an anonymous compilation from classical, Arabic and medieval sources attributed to the 13th ct. Spanish born physician Arnoldus de Villa Nova, at the same time the 1st of about a dozen Venetian editions of a most important Renaissance plant book.
Contents: The woodcuts were printed from the woodblocks of the 1st Italian edition executed in 1491 by Leon Achates in Vicenza. They seem much more ambitious and naturalistic than those in the German editions (first published in Mainz in 1484), „… being finer in execution and the lines are more delicate…“ (Klebs). As regards content this Italian edition also differs, as it includes plants used as medicine and sold in pharmacies and by spice merchants.
With beautifully calligraphed, partly contemporary annotations and marginalia throughout made with differently coloured ink in various languages (e.g. Hungarian), due to later cutting in parts lost.
Condition: Cover bumped and worn, top and bottom part with faults due to worming, some parts with worm holes, moderately stained and finger-soiled throughout, leafs i2 to i4 loose, some pages with minor faults at margins or traces of old restoration, overall despite 14 leafs missing a substantial copy of this precious incunabula, gorgeously printed with wide margins.
Holdings, Rarity: ISTC quotes 75 copies worldwide in institutional holdings, of which 17 imperfect like preceded. ABPC show no auction results at all for this edition since 1972.
References: Hain *1807; BMC XVth, V, 524; Choulant: Graph. Inkunabeln Nr. 10; Pechellet 1315; Klebs 506, 11; Welcome 3101; Proctor 5415; Poynter 289; Liechtenstein-Hauslab Nr. 20; Schullian/Sommer 237; Pritzel 10757; Essling II, 1190; Sajo/Soltesz 1639; Nissen bot. 2308