Description

    della Porta's Treatise on Plant Physiognomy

    Giovanni Battista della Porta. Phytognomonica...octo libris contenta. Naples: Orazio (Horatio) Salviano, 1588. First edition. Folio. A-2R4, 2A-2C4. 320, (22) pages. Illustrated title, portrait of author on verso, and 32 text woodcuts. 18th century boards, damp stains at top, title in old ink on spine. Professional repairs to small worming in inner margin, last few leaves browned (index), small hole to 2B2, no affect, otherwise a nice clean copy in very good condition. Includes index, which is often absent. This is the first edition, earliest issue with the title dated 1588 (many others with 1589), and has the index, which is often lacking in more than half the copies existing. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
    Please visit HA.com/6127 for an extended description of this lot.


    More Information:

    "Porta expanded upon his theory of the correspondence between external form and internal character in this treatise on plant physiognomy. Porta claimed that plant physiognomy was the theoretical side of agriculture; however, his doctrine of signatures - that the exterior form of a plant indicates its medicinal qualities - was more akin to sympathetic magic than to science and led to some bizarre claims, e.g., that herbs growing in rock clefts will help break up bladder stones, and that plants resembling flies and butterflies promote fecundity. Porta's doctrine of signatures was opposed by believers in astrological medicine, and the two factions often quarelled... There are two issues of this edition, the second with a title-page dated 1589. Some copies have additional signatures 2A-2C4 (C4 blank), containing the index." - Norman, 1724.

    Adams P1938. Hunt 158. Nissen BBI 463. Norman 1724. EDIT 16 CNCE 16534. Mortimer, Italian 399. Wellcome 5203. BM STC (Ital) 536. Marshall II: 639. Thorndike  VI: 422-3.



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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
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