6054. Plinius Secundus Historia naturalis 1473

PLINIUS SECUNDUS, GAIUS. Historia naturalis. Rome (Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz) 1473.

Folio (c. 390x265 mm.). 361 (of 402, lacks first blank and last 40 [including last blank]) leaves (last leaf with colophon only present in facsimile). No pagination, foliation or signatures. Book I with two columns, otherwise 46 lines to the page.
With 33 fine contemporary illuminated large initials in gold, blue, red and green colours, all decorated with fine arabesque designs (for the large initials, a 12-line space opening each book). The first page with a painted border in a similar design scheme to the large initials, with a blank cartouche formed of bay-leaves in the lower border (2 small holes in lower margin, some minor foxing). Many other capitals in blue or red.

Late 19th century brown half pigskin, somewhat worn, slightly faded sparsely gilt spine in six compartments. Some marginal staining, some minor foxing, 2 leaves with mended tears,spotted to edges. Inscription on first endpaper by the Swedish book collector Per Hierta.

Löwendahl: China illustrata nova. Supplement, 1552; PMM, 5 (ed. I, 1469); HC 13090.; GW M34308.

Lacking first blank and last 40 leaves, including last blank.
This fourth edition was edited by Niccolò Perotti, Archbishop of Siponto. The printer's, Sweynheym and Pannartz, also printed the second edition of 1470, which was edited by Joannes Andreae de Buxiis (Bussi) and Theodorus Gaza.

The editio princeps was printed in Rome 1469 by Joannes de Spira. Sweynheym and Pannartz may have learned the art of printing in Gutenberg's shop in Mainz. They became the first to establish a press in Italy, at the Abbey of Subiaco 1464, moving to Rome in 1467. The present Plinius edition was the last book from their press.
There are several passages mentioning the Chinese and Chinese commoditise in this edition, i.e. Lib. VI, cap. XVII; Lib. VI, cap. XXII; Lib VII, cap. III; Lib. XII, cap. VIIII, Lib. XII, cap. XXII.
The first comprehensive examination of the natural sciences and the arts. Subjects include the fine arts and literature, cosmology, geography, medicine, zoology, botany, mineralogy, anthropology and many others. Pliny's description of sculpture and painting, and techniques such as chasing in silver, also make this an important source for the history of ancient art.
Very rare. Before 2013, there was no record of any sale at JAP, ABPC or Rare Book Hub.

From the library of Swedish antiquarian bookdealer Björn Löwendahl (1941-2013).