(Lugduni [Lyon]: Apud Balthazarem Arnolletum, 1549). 165 x 108 mm. (6 1/2 x 4 1/4"). 16 p.l. (the last blank), 852 pp.,  leaves. Second Lyon Edition.
Excellent 17th century calf, double gilt fillet border on covers, raised bands (expertly rebacked, preserving most of the original attractively gilt backstrip). Woodcut printer's device, portrait, and IN EXCESS OF 500 WOODCUT BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATIONS, ALL COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. Endpapers with bookplates of A. D. Stodeur, M.D., and the Horticultural Society of New York (Bequest of Kenneth Mackenzie, 1934); title page with mostly removed ink inscription in a contemporary hand; margin of bb7 with remnants of 17th or 18th century ink signature; e4 with light embossed stamp of the Horticultural Society. Nissen BBI 557; Hunt 61; Adams F-1102; Mortimer 240. Leather a little crackled, neat repairs to title page and margins of two other leaves (no loss), isolated rust spots or light foxing, occasional faint offsetting from colors, but A REMARKABLY FINE COPY, unusually clean and fresh internally (for any 16th century book and particularly for an herbal), and in a solid binding with no significant wear.
This is an historically significant early octavo edition of Fuchs' celebrated herbal, published seven years after the work first appeared, offered here with unusually careful contemporary hand coloring and in almost amazing condition. Professor of medicine at Tübingen, Fuchs (1501-66), sets out in this work to improve the knowledge of materia medica by showing the largest possible number of plants useful as drugs and herbs. Specifically, he describes 400 German and 100 foreign plants and illustrates them with more than 500 woodcuts. Our scholarly author draws heavily on classical learning in his text, but he also uses his knowledge of the northwestern European species and even American plants like maize (the fuchsia, when it was brought from America, was named after him). He expresses a keen appreciation for the beauties of nature, and he is enough of a true botanist to describe the characteristics of plants, their habits, habitats, and forms. It is this work that makes Fuchs one of the founders of botany (along with Bock and Brunfels), a science that had virtually stood still since Dioscorides. The clearest aspect of modernity in the work is seen in the woodcuts, based on firsthand observation of the living plant and establishing a standard of plant illustration which has been followed down to the present. Ours is the scarce second Lyon edition, distinctive as the first printing of a smaller version of the woodcuts used in the first edition, issued in 1542 in Basel. The early folio editions are among the great illustrated books of the period, and even the small woodcuts here are detailed and delicate. In the present copy, the coloring has been done with deftness and care, and the results are gratifyingly attractive. The small editions of these works would have been used in the field, the kitchen, and the apothecary shop, where they would have encountered hazards from dirt, damp, spills, and burns. To find a copy like the present one, with no such signs of use, is extremely fortunate. (ST12459)
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PJP Catalog: NY19BF.048