Publisher Information: Basel: ex officina Isingrinana, 1542.
Fuchs, Leonhardt (1501-1556). De historia stirpium. Folio. [26, of 28], 33, 35-60, , 61-896, pp.; lacking leaf 2, containing the first two pages of Fuchs’s letter to the Elector of Brandenburg. Woodcut portrait of Fuchs on verso title, full-page woodcut illustrations drawn by Albrecht Meyer, copied onto the blocks by Heinrich Füllmaurer and cut by Veit Rudolf Speckle; the artists’ portraits appear on fff5r. Basel: Officina Isingriniana, 1542. 378 x 248 mm. Contemporary blind-tooled pigskin over wooden boards, skillfully rebacked, free endpapers renewed, original brass clasps and catches retained, some edgewear. Lower margins of leaves eee4 – fff6 repaired (not affecting text), tear in leaf p3 repaired, occasional minor spotting, but a very good, tall and clean copy. Old signature partially removed from title page.
First Edition. “Perhaps the most celebrated and most beautiful herbal ever published” (Printing and the Mind of Man). Fuch’s magnificent herbal, illustrating over 400 native German and 100 foreign plants, is also remarkable for containing the first glossary of botanical terms, for providing the first depictions of a number of American plants, including pumpkins and maize, and for its generous tribute to the artists Meyer, Füllmaurer and Speckle, whose portraits appear on the last leaf. The illustrations in Fuchs’s herbal were copied and adapted by other botanical writers, and their influence persisted into the eighteenth century.
Fuch’s De historia stirpium was probably inspired by the pioneering work of Brunfels, whose Herbarum vivae imagines had appeared twelve years earlier. “These two works have rightly been ascribed importance in the history of botany, and for two reasons. In the first place they established the requisites of botanical illustration—verisimilitude in form and habit, and accuracy of significant detail . . . Secondly they provided a corpus of plant species which were identifiable with a considerable degree of certainty by any reasonably careful observer, no matter by what classical or vernacular names they were called by different authors, or in different countries . . . Brunfels and Fuchs were apparently the earliest to use the new possibilities for the production of good botanical illustrations; both were fortunate in the exceptionally talented artists and craftsmen whom they were able to employ” (Morton, p. 124). Adams F-1099. Dibner, Heralds of Science, 19. Garrison-Morton.com 1808. Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science, 33b. Hunt Botanical Catalogue 48. Morton, History of Botanical Science, p. 124. Norman 846. Printing and the Mind of Man 69. Norman / Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine, 17.Book Id: 43505