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May 02, 2018

Herbarius Latinus

The sixth book in the Herbal Collection of the Allen Memorial Medical Library, and the second book in the Marshall Collection, is the 1484 edition of Herbarius Latinus.

The author is not known. As noted in Johnston's work on the Cleveland Herbal Collection, the CMLA edition is bound in dark brown calf with with raised bands and clasps (missing).

The cover is blind tooled with a panel design with a double line fillet. The outer panel is filled with a blind ornamental stamping of a plant in each corner with a scroll in between each corner, what Johnston refers to as a "ribbon rolls" each roll "inscribed christus". The middle panel is a mixture of both the ornamental plants and the rolls. There is some imbalance in the cover design, with four rolls in the outer panel at the bottom--within the frame of the panel--and five at the top, with one roll "breaking" the frame. The cover is worm eaten and gouged in places.

The interior is something to behold. Inside the front board is what Johnston describes as the "Armorial bookplate of the castle of Oels in Silesia". In addition, there are various enumerations, possibly cataloging, and a two paragraph statement in Latin.

The title page is equally interesting with what Johnston names as "one of earliest works to have a title page". The title is presented in Gothic font with the red printer's mark of Fust and Schoeffer (widely believed to have stolen Gutenberg's press and equipment out from under him). Additionally, there is a purple stamp of which Johnston writes "duplicate stamp of the Royal Library at Dresden." There is also an inscription "Sum Francisci Eyssagk, Monasterii Schweydnitzer."

On the verso of the title page, in red and green, is the "arms of Bernardinus von Berge". Johnston makes no mention of the title page having been ripped in half, with the lower half missing and replaced.

Herbarius Latinus consists of 174 pages with 150 woodcuts of plants, each numbered with Roman numerals. The woodcuts are hand-colored. There is an alphabetical listing of woodcuts at the front. I've included some samples, including, my favorite, a hop vine with cones.

According to Johnston, Herbarius Latinus is "the progenitor of a string of herbals that went through 11 later editions, the work is noteworthy as the first herbal printed in Germany." The first section of the book consists of the woodcut of the plant, the name in both German and Latin, followed by a Latin description. This section runs around 151 pages. The remainder "contains 96 chapters discussing the same number of drugs."

Posted by twh7 at May 2, 2018 02:08 PM

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