Parma: Andreas Portilia, 1481.
3rd Edition. Hardcover. Large Folio. Very Good. Item #003242
July 8, 1481. Royal Folio (410 x 278 mm). 266 unfoliated leaves (of 268, lacking blanks a1 and ee6 only). 58 lines, Roman type 4:99R. Signatures: a8 (-a1) b6 c-e8 f6 g-h8 i-l6 m-y8 z6 &4 aa-dd8 ee6 (-ee6) A-F8 G6. On fol. a2r: "Caius Plinius Marco suo salutem", fol. a3r: Caii Plynii Secundi Naturalis hystoriae liber primus. Caius Plynius Secundus Nouocomensis. T. Vespasiano suo salutem. Praefatio". Fol. c1r elaborately illuminated with large opening initial 'M' painted in red, green, blue and gold, with painted extending floral leaves and minor penwork, at lower margin a simplified ecclesiastical shield in red housing three escallops, with extending floral leaves. 36 14-line initials opening each book, of red and blue with elaborate red or purple penwork infill and marginal extensions, 2-line Lombard initials in alternating red and blue, red and blue paragraph marks. Bound in mid 19th-century marbled calf, spine richly gilt-decorated and with gilt-lettered label; boards, board-edges and turn-ins tooled in gilt, marbled edges, marbled endpapers (hinges with old repair, extremities rubbed, corners worn and bumped). Fol. b6 misbound after a7, fols. a8 and b1 trimmed to text block margins and framed in new paper (without loss of text), gathering f misbound after fol. ee3, gathering s misbound after fol. e8, fols. ee4 and ee5 trimmed to text block margins (with loss of 4 letters of a word in last line of fol. ee4r and 5 words at foot of fol. ee5r), all laid down on new paper (versos are blank) and misbound at end after fol. G6. Text generally quite clean, occasional dust-/ finger-soiling and spotting, 3 leaves with small holes in blank areas, some marginal tears with old paper repairs (on fol. ee3v with partial loss of text). The blue paint largely faded, partially blurred and with occasional offsetting to opposite pages. Provenance: Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3. Baronet of Duntreath (armorial bookplate on front pastedown). All in all a very attractive copy with extensive illumination. ----
Third Parma edition of Pliny, reprinting Portilla's edition of the previous year. At least 46 editions of the Historia naturalis, the first great encyclopaedia of natural history, appeared during the first century of printing. Pliny's vast compilation, "a strange combination of insight, erudition, and folktales" (Stillwell, Science, 684) and the only extant work of over 100 works said to have been composed by him, comprised 37 books covering cosmology, geography, anthropology, medicine, zoology, philosophy, history, agriculture, mineralogy and the arts. By his own count Pliny's sources numbered over 2,000, all of whom he scrupulously cited, from which he derived some 20,000 facts. At his death the work was still unfinished. With its extensive tables and indexes, the Historia naturalis fulfilled its author's ambition to create a universal reference book, and continued to be the object of study (and excessive reverence) well into the Renaissance. Books 12-27 relate to botany and medicaments, and include "large portions of the writings of two of the ancient herbalists, Diodes and Crataeus" (Anderson, p. 17), which would otherwise not have survived. Reerences: Hain 13094*; Klebs 786.8; BMC VII, 937; Oates 2573; IGI 7885; GoffP-793.
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