Augsburg: Johann Bämler, 1475.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #003640
30 October 1475. Folio (285 x 210 mm). 263 (of 294) unnumbered leaves, including two final blanks, but lacking 31 text leaves (f.1-15, 24-26, 34-35, 129-136, 153, 287-288 including entire gatherings b and p). With 9 (of 12) full-page woodcut illustrations, all in original hand-color, each opening the chapters 3 to 5 and 7 to 12 (lacking the first two and that to chapter 6); two- to three-line Lombard initials printed in outline, five- to eight-line hand-colored woodcut Maiblumen-initials opening each chapter. Signatures: [a2 b12 c-i10 k8 l6 m-o10 p-r8 s-z10 A-C10 D-E8 F-G10 H-I8 (-a2, b12, c1, c10, d1-2, d10, e1, p8, s1, I1-2). All leaves uncut with the deckle edges entirely preserved. [Bound with II.] Regimen sanitatis - Das ist von der ordenung der gesuntheyt. Augsburg: Johann Bämler, 13 November 1475. 46 (of 52) leaves (lacking first blank a1, the register a2, text leaves b8, b9, f1 and the final colophon leaf f10). Signatures: [a2 b-f10]. 28 lines, type and print space identical to the previous work. Two Maiblumen-initials, three-line Lombard initials printed in outline. Contemporary gothic Augsburg binding of blindstamped calf over thick wooden boards, spine with 3 raised bands, original brass catch- and anchor-plates preserved (straps and clasps gone). The wooden boards slightly bent, the leather heavily chipped at bottom of upper-board and fore-edge of lower board, the spine ends reinforced with broad leather patches, these hand-lettered in white, pastedowns renewed, no flyleaves. Old leather guides to chapter opening leaves preserved. Little even browning of paper throughout. Some brown spotting and finger-soiling in places; water- and lampoil staining mostly to inner margin of first and final gatherings; several leaves with clean tears and a few torn with loss (these old repaired with patches of paper manuscripts); a few wormholes; edge chipping and -fraying to a few leaves. Provenance: from a South German collection of a pharmacist, bought by collector at German auction house in 1987 (lot no. 55, ?23 000); two old armorial ink stamps "Ioann Andres / Notarius Puplicus" on one text leaf. A few short annotations in ink; Cristoff Hueber* (long ownership inscription on final blank leaf verso and two shorter inscriptions elsewhere, all dated 1620). ----
EDITIO PRINCEPS AND OF UTMOST RARITY IN ANY CONDITION of Das Buch der Natur by Conrad von Megenberg, which occupies a unique position in the history of botany and zoology, for it is the first work in which a wood-cut representing plants and animals was used with the definite intention of illustrating the text, and not merely for a decorative purpose (cf. Arber). The figures are the earliest printed pictures of natural history and mark the beginning of scientific iconography.
Conrad von Megenberg (c. 1309-1374), a professor of philosophy and canon of the Cathedral of Regensburg, based his text on the De natura rerum, a thirteenth-century work attributed to Thomas of Cantimpré (c. 1201-63), but considered by Conrad to be in fact a work of the young Albertus Magnus, Thomas' teacher. Influenced by Bartholomaeus Anglicus' Liber de proprietatibus rerum, Conrad revised the text before dedicating it to the Austrian Duke Rudolf IV between 1358 and 1362. The introduction to each chapter contains moralizing aphorisms and theological ideas, and Conrad's descriptions of natural phenomena are usually followed by further theological or astrological explanations.
With sections on human anatomy, astronomy and meteorology, zoology (including entomology), botany, precious and semiprecious stones and metals, and natural marvels or monsters, the Buch der Natur was the first such encyclopaedic work to be printed in any vernacular tongue. The late medieval knowledge about man, the heavens and the seven planets, the stars, the elements, the winds, the domestic and wild animals, the birds, the sea wonders, the fish and reptiles, the snakes, the spiders, worms, snails and insects, the trees and their fruits, their healing properties, as well as in particular detail that of the herbs is presented in 10 chapters. The eleventh chapter deals with minerals, their properties and powers, the last with the healing properties of water, springs and wells. Each chapter is preceded by a large woodcut. Present in our copy are the woodcuts for the chapters 3 to 5 and 7 to 12: quadrupeds; birds (depiction of peacock, swan, heron, goose, etc.); fish and crustaceans; fishes and crayfishes); fish and crabs; snakes and poisonous animals; worms, grasshoppers and bees; trees; herbs; St. Ulrich in bishop's habit, holding the fish in his right hand and the crozier in his left; the last woodcut shows two springs at the top and deformed people at the bottom (cf. Muther 43). In chapters 9 and 10, on trees and plants, 173 plants are listed. Most are adapted from Cantimpré, who mentioned 114 plants, the rest being taken from Avicenna, Galen, Dioscorides, Isidore, and Conrad's own observations. The two botanical woodcuts for these chapters, showing buttercups, lilies of the valley, violets, and other plants, are the first known printed representations of identifiable species.
Of the 12 woodcuts present in the book 2 could be identified to be executed by the "Bämler Master" (chapters 1 and 6), further 3 probably by the "Sorg Master" (chapters 2, 3 and 8), who can be traced later, especially in Anton Sorg's prints. Chapers 4 and 5 are probably by the "Plant Growth Master". Bämler reused the same woodcuts in his second and third editions, but also used well-known models: For example, his two-volume edition "Der Heiligen Leben" of 1475 follows Zainer's edition (cf. Augustyn). Most of the surviving copies of the first edition of the Book of Nature are colored by hand. The fine contemporary coloring of our copy is typical of Augsburg and is very close to that of the Munich (BSB) and Nuremberg (GNM) copies. It is thus very likely that a part of the edition was already colored in Bämler's workshop or in an Augsburg workshop nearby commissioned by him.
* Christoff Hueber, Vicarius der Pfarr Praitenbach in Rattenberg, Tirol. The handwritten German text reads "Ano 1620 Monats Marii hab ich Cristoff hueber dis Natur Puech von Insprugs herrn gen Glurns tragen welches Buoch meinen Vater vnnd Schwecher Paullus Buetman gehörig gewest wekchs er mier schenckht hat, vnnd ich das in monat Maii anno 20 Auß Pössert vnnd veriuert hab Got sein Gnad Bob..."
The editio princeps is of utmost rarity. Only a single complete copy is recorded to have come to trade: the Otto Schäfer copy which was offered by Jörn Günther AG (see his catalogue Spotlight on Medieval Medicine, 2016). ISTC lists 32 copies in public institutions of which 15 are located in Germany and 6 in the US. Of these 32 copies, 12 are listed as imperfect.
Literature: Goff C842; H 4041*; Klebs 300.1; Schramm III p. 14 & 25; Schr 3778; Osler(IM) 77; Pell 3048; CIBN K-18; Sajó-Soltész 2013; SI 1219; Sallander 1816; Hubay(Augsburg) 1279; Voull(B) 70; Schäfer 203; Walsh 544; Pr 1613; BMC II 333; BSB-Ink K-44; GW M16426; Zehnacker 1387; Šimáková-Vrchotka 1173; Arber, Agnes. Herbals, their Origin and Evolution - A Chapter in the History of Botany 1470-1670. Project Gutenberg, 2014, eBook #46889; Augustyn, Wolfgang. Buchillustration in Augsburger Inkunabeln. In: Günter Hägele und Melanie Thierbach (Hrsg.): AUGSBURG MACHT DRUCK. Die Anfänge des Buchdrucks in einer Metropole des 15. Jahrhunderts, 2017, p.67; Locy, William A. The Earliest Printed Illustrations of Natural History. The Scientific Monthly, Vol. 13, No. 3 (Sep., 1921), pp. 238-258; Pfeiffer, Franz. Das Buch der Natur, von Konrad von Megenberg, Die erste Naturgeschichte in deutscher Sprache. Stuttgart, 1861; Meyer, Geschichte der Botanik, 1857; Sudhoff, Studien zur Geschichte der Medizin, 1908; Davis, Hugh William, Early German Books in the Library of G. Fairfax Murray, 1913; Maria Effinger, Karin Zimmermann (Hrsg.): Löwen, Liebstöckel und Lügensteine. Illustrierte Naturbücher seit Konrad von Megenberg. Ausst. Kat. Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (Schriften der Universitäts-bibliothek Heidelberg 9). Heidelberg 2009; Gerold Hayer (Hrsg.): Konrad von Megenberg. Das Buch der Natur. Johannes Hartlieb. Kräuterbuch. Farbmikrofiche-Ed. der Handschrift Heidelberg, Universitäts-bibliothek, Cod. Pal. Germ. 311 und der Bilder aus Cod. Pal. Germ. 300 (Codices illuminati medii aevi 33). München 1997; Conradus de Megenberg: Das „Buch der Natur". Bd. 2: Kritischer Text nach den Handschriften. Hrsg. v. Robert Luff, Georg Steer (Texte und Textgeschichte 54). Tübingen 2003; Marina Münkler: Die monstra in Konrads von Megenberg Buch der Natur. In: Claudia Märtl (Hrsg.): Konrad von Megenberg (1309-1374) und sein Werk. Das Wissen der Zeit (Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte Beiheft Reihe B 31). München 2006, p. 229-250; Ulrike Spyra: Das „Buch der Natur" Konrads von Megenberg. Die illustrierten Handschriften und Inkunabeln (Pictura et poesis 19). Köln, Tübingen 2005, 488 pp.; Benedikt Konrad Vollmann: Thomas von Cantimpre und Konrad von Megenberg. In: Edith Feistner (Hrsg.): Konrad von Megenberg. (1309-1374). Ein spätmittelalterlicher „Enzyklopädist" im europäischen Kontext. (Jahrbuch der Oswald-von-Wolkenstein-Gesellschaft 18). Wiesbaden 2011, p. 13-20.
II. THIRD EDITION. The first printed edition of any variant was published by Johann Bämler in 1472, included in Lehre und Unterweisung (see ISTC il00126000). The present edition of 1475 is his first separate edition of this text, while a previous reprint had already appeared about 1472 by Creussner in Nuremberg. Ten incunable editions followed, and the work was also reprinted in the 16th century. Issued only two weeks after Megenberg’s Buch der natur, and using identical type and print space, the Regimen Sanitatis (Ordnung der Gesundheit) was perhaps conceived as an addition to Megenberg's book. Both works are often bound together, as in our copy.
Literature: Hain 13738; Sudhoff 11; Klebs 828.3; Klebs-Sudhoff 75B; Pell-Pol 9811; BNCI R 32; BMC II, 334 (IB. 5666); Goff R 47; Christa Hagenmeyer, Die 'Ordnung der Gesundheit' für Rudolf von Hohenberg, Heidelberg 1472; Christa Hagenmeyer, Das Regimen sanitatis Konrads von Eichstätt, Stuttgart 1995. - Visit our website for further reading and to see all the images!
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