by GESNER, Conrad
Woodcut illus. on title, two ports. of J. Kentmann, many woodcuts of fossils & stones in the text, & several printer's devices. 8 parts in one vol. 8vo, 18th-cent. mottled half-sheep & marbled boards, spine gilt, red leather lettering piece on spine. Zurich: J. Gesner, 1565. First edition of this famous collection of texts which forms one of the most important contributions to 16th-century geology and mineralogy. It consists of eight separate treatises by seven authors on the subjects of fossils, gems, and metals, all edited by Gesner and with his general introduction and extensive commentaries. This is an important association copy, with the signature on the title of Caspar (Gaspard) Bauhin (1560-1624), the first professor of anatomy and botany at the University of Basel. He made a number of important contributions to both anatomy and botany (see D.S.B., I, pp. 522-24). Like Gesner, Bauhin was greatly concerned with nomenclature; his great merit, again like Gesner, was his ability to treat his subjects in an orderly and methodical manner. The treatises are: I. Kentmann, Johann. Nomenclaturae Rerum fossilium. 8 p.l., 95 leaves, one blank leaf. This contains an illustration of Kentmann's cabinet, and catalogues over 1600 specimens, with localities where known, and German equivalents of the Latin names. It is the first published catalogue of a geological collection. II. Kentmann. Calculorum qui in Corpore ac membris hominum innascuntur. 2 p.l., 22 leaves. An illustrated account of stones formed in the human body. III. Fabricius, Georg. De Metallicis rebus. 3 p.l., 31 leaves. A treatise on noble and base metals. IV. Goebel, Severin. De Succino libri duo. 2 p.l., 30 (i.e. 31),  leaves, one blank leaf. A discussion of amber and other gems and minerals, with a separate treatise by Gesner on bitumen, amber, naphtha, etc. V. Cordus, Valerius. De Halosantho seu Spermate Ceti liber. 3 p.l., 37 leaves. A commentary on the "efflorescence of salt" sometimes found floating on water, which Dioscorides and Galen had recommended as a cure for skin diseases. Gesner in his commentary refutes the notion that this was the sperm of whales. VI. Epiphanius. De XII Gemmi. 4 p.l., 28 leaves. A discussion of the gemstones in Aron's shield. VII. Rue, François. De Gemmis aliquot. 2 p.l., 85 (i.e. 86) leaves. A treatise on gems mentioned in the Book of Revelation. VIII. Gesner, Conrad. De Rerum Fossilium... 7 p.l., 169 leaves. The earliest scientific attempt to classify the members of the mineral kingdom, based on the forms of the fossils. It is illustrated by numerous woodcuts after Gesner's own drawings, many of which are still preserved in the Basel University Library. According to Adams, this part contains the earliest illustration of a lead pencil. There is also an illustration of the mariner's Compass made from magnetic iron ore. A fine copy. Old stamp on blank portion of title. Complete copies are of considerable rarity on the market today. ❧ Adams, The Birth and Development of the Geological Sciences, pp. 176-83-"Of special interest in that it presents a picture in miniature of the mineral kingdom as seen through the eyes of the greatest naturalist of his time." Hoover 347. Sinkankas 2366-(long note). Sparrow, Milestones of Science, p. 10 & plate 37. Wellisch A 63. Wilson, The History of Mineral Collecting 1530-1799, pp. 23-25.
(Inventory #: 5507)