Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Portable Fuchs

Frontispiece to Fuchs's herbalIn 1542, Leonhard Fuchs published his great herbal. We have a copy of that first edition. It is a beast of a folio, richly illustrated and dense with text made for serious study. But it couldn't easily be carried into the field for easy reference, so seven years later, an octavo edition was printed in Lyon for portability.

We were just able to acquire a copy with hand-colored images throughout: De historia stirpium commentarii insignes (Lyon, 1549). One of the reasons we love this little edition is that it provides a wonderful contrast with the original edition in the classroom. Students can immediately see how form and function interact in a printed book.

Two-page spread showing hand-colored plants
As an aside, Fuchs is always fun to use because his herbal was placed on the index of forbidden books by the Catholic church--not because it contains any heresy, but because Fuchs had joined the Protestant Reformation.

Hand-colored flowers from Fuchs
To see the first edition, ask for Rare QK41.F7 1542. We are still cataloging the new one, but it will have a call number soon.

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