Frankfurt am Main, Feyerabend, 1586. Large folio (36.8 x 23.5 cm). ff , 460, [37, index] pp. (pagination errors: 19 for 18, 198 for 210, 208 for 308, and 405 for 406). Fine 17th century full calf with crowned monograms to spine compartments. Preserved in splendid double walled custom fit drop-back clamshell box; quarter leather over speckled paper boards, with rounded spine; spine rich gilt and with red morocco title label.
Rare first Frankfurt edition, contemporarily coloured, of Camerarius’ version of Mattioli’s great herbal. This edition contains the Gesner/Camerarius suite of woodcuts. Gesner had been preparing material for a massive historia plantarum but died before finishing the task; Camerarius acquired the material, used Gesner's woodcuts and supplemented them with his own. They are remarkable in their scientific detail, especially the enlarged depictions of floral structure, seeds, and fruit. This is the first time that such representation was consistently followed, and marks the beginning of what much later became a convention in scientific botanical illustration, when the taxonomic importance of these details was fully appreciated. They first appeared in Camerarius’ recension of Mattioli's "De plantis epitome utilissima" of the same year (which is a different text than the above, and not merely a Latin version of the same). In addition to the botanical woodcuts, the German edition contains seven woodcuts of distilling apparatuses. In the Vorred (preface), Camerarius describes in detail the edition history of this book, and of the woodblocks in particular. Not all of the Gesner woodblocks were finished when Camerarius set out to edit Mattioli’s text. In supervising the cutting of the already executed designs of the blocks, he took great care in assuring they were botanically correct. He gives a list of woodcuts already finished, but not botanically correct, and describes how the depicted configurations and shapes of leaves differ from nature. The fine title woodcut has, within an oval at top, a female figure seated and feeding a snake, with the motto "Bonae Valetudini Digatum"; on bottom there is another oval containing a fine small agricultural scene, with a tree surrounded by a woven fence and the motto, "Wan Gott Wil / Spes", the whole surrounded by another motto, "Omnia Florebunt Pros piciente Deo"; the compartment is inscribed at the bottom left with "C. S.", and on the right with "I. A." With the engraved book plate of Fridericus Christophorus Langetl, Iuris Vtriusq. Doctor, and an inscription on the bottom of the book-plate dated 1682 (probably bound then). The lower margin of the index was repaired with old paper before the book was bound due to natural wear to these pages at the bottom. Small damp stain to the inner bottom margin of the first ten leaves, some very light and uniform browning throughout. A fine and completely unrestored copy of this rare first edition. Nissen BBI, 1311 (erroneously stating 360 pp.); Pritzel, 5990 (the 1590 edition).