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May 08, 2018

De Symmetria by Albrecht Durer

We'll take a brief hiatus from the Herbal Collection of the Cleveland Medical Library Association, housed in the Allen Memorial Medical Library, to look at De Symmetria partium in rectis formis humanorum corporum libri, by Albrecht Durer, from 1532. This is the first edition of the Latin translation of the work (from German). De Symmetria uses the original wood blocks from the earlier printings for this translation. It is a folio in sixes, with chainlines and several different watermarks.

There is accompanying text from a catalog of the book sale which notes that "This work embodies the first application of anthropometry to esthetics, and is technically interesting because it contains the first attempts to represent shades and shadows in wood engraving by means of crosshatching." The work encompasses many different uses of perspective and forms of proportion to examine the human figure, including forms of the human figure which are not "ideal," which is to say, not idealized forms of the body such as those used by contemporaries such as DaVinci in his exploration of human form. Additionally, in the back of this work are several eulogies, obituaries, and poems in celebration of Albrecht Durer, who had died several years prior to this translation being published.


De Symmetria in Latin consists of two works in one volume; with each work containing two books, each dealing with different aspects of the topic of human proportion. There are various diagrams of perspective, blocks or cubes in dimension, figures in motion, and diagrams of the human head. Also of note is an attempt to present the human figure in cross-sectional views (along the axial plane) similar to that in the visible human project.

De Symmetria consists of approximately 160 pages with 85 woodcuts of figure of the human body and various experiments in perspective. The woodcuts are those used in the 1528 German edition. Bound in vellum. Damage on the upper spine/headcap area and internal hinges for several leaves.

Posted by twh7 at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

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 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2018

De Medicina

The second book in the Herbal Collection of the Allen Memorial Medical Library, and the first book in the Marshall Collection, is the 1481 edition of De Medicina by Aulus Cornelius Celsus.

As noted in Johnston's work on the Cleveland Herbal Collection, the CMLA edition is bound in vellum with both red and black leather tags on the spine which announce the Author and the Title and Year.

The work itself is divided into 8 Books which cover the topics of a sensible diet; prognosis and diagnosis of disease and symptoms; internal ailments and diseases; local bodily diseases; treatment by drugs of general diseases; treatment of local diseases; and two final books on surgery. The final two books receive some special treatment in an artcle by Kockerling in Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery from 2013: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3627856/. According to Johnston's work, De Medicina was part of a larger set of works by Celsus which have now been lost, but were, it is asserted, derived from Hippocrates. The 1481 edition is the second, the first having been printed in 1478 at the direction of Pope Nicolas V, and was one of the first books on medicine and surgery published after the invention of the printing press. The CMLA copy has no illustrations or plates. It is a quarto with 152 leaves, and a table of contents. There is various bits of damage, including some water staining and worm holes throughout. The text is accompanies by marginalia, and the author's name is written on the bottom edge of the text block. Online, there are various translations of the text. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Cels.

Posted by twh7 at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)