An Impressive Sammelband of Gesner’s Complete Zoological Works. Illustrated with over 1,000 Woodcuts

Gesner (also Gessner), Conrad (1516-1565)

Vogelbuch: darinn die Art, Natur unnd Eigenschafft aller Vöglen, sampt irer waren Contrafactur angezeigt wirdt : allen Liebhabern der Künsten, Artzeten, Maleren, Goldschmiden, Bildschnitzeren, Seydenstickeren, Weydleüten unnd Köchen, nit allein lustig zu erfaren, sunder gantz nutzlich und dienstlich zebrauchen. erstlich durch Doctor Conradt Geßner in Latin beschrieben, neüwlich aber durch Rudolff Heüßlin mit Fleyß in das Teütsch gebracht unnd in eine kurtze Ordnung gestelt.

$38,000.00

Zürich: Christoph Froschauer the younger, 1582

[Bound with:]

Thierbuch. Das ist ein kurtze beschreybung aller vierfüssigen Thieren, so auff der erden vn[d] in wassern wonend, sampt jrer waren conterfactur: alles zu nutz vn[d] gutem allen liebhabern der künsten, Artzeten, Maleren, Bildschnitzern, Weydleüten vnd Köchen, gestalt. Erstlich durch den hochgeleerten herren D. Cunrat Geßner in Latin beschriben, yetzunder aber durch D. Cunrat Forer zu mererem nutz aller mengklichem in das Teütsch gebracht, vnd in ein kurtze komliche ordnung gezogen

Zürich: Christoph Froschauer the younger, 1583

[Bound with:]

Fisch buch. das ist ein kurtze, doch vollkomme beschreybung aller Fischen so in dem Meer und süssen wasseren, Seen, Flüssen oder anderen Bächen jr wonung habend, sampt jrer waaren conterfactur : zu nutz und gütem allen Artzeten, Maleren, Weydleuten und Köchen gestelt : insonders aber denen so ein lust habend zu erfahren und betrachten Gottes wunderbare werck in seinen geschöpfften. erstlich in Latin durch ... Cunradt Gässner ; beschriben; yetz neüwlich aber durch Cunradt Forer zu grösserem nutz allen liebhaberen der künsten in das Teutschgebracht

Zürich: Christoph Froschauer the younger, 1575

[Bound with:]

Schlangenbuch. Das ist ein grundtliche vnd vollkom[m]ne Beschreybung aller Schlangen

so im Meer, süsen Wassern vnd auff Erden jr wohnung haben, Sampt der selbigen conterfaitung. Erstlich durch ... Conrat Geßnern zusamen getragen vnnd beschriben, vnnd hernaher durch ... Jacobum Carronum gemehrt vnd in dise ordnung gebracht: An yetzo aber mit sonderm fleyß verteütscht

Zürich: Froschauer printing house, 1589

Folio. Four Volumes Bound As One: 37.5 x 24.2 cm. I. (Vogelbuch )[6], CCLXI lvs. Collation: aa6, a-z6, A-T6, U4, X6 (with blank X6 present. II. (Thierbuch) [4], CLXXII lvs. Collation: a4, a-z6, A-D6, E4, F6 III. (Fischbuch) [6], CCII lvs. Collation: aaa6, a-z6, A-K6, L4. IV. (Schlangenbuch) [4], LXXII lvs. Collation: i4, A-M6

FIRST GERMAN EDITION OF THE BOOK OF SERPENTS, SECOND GERMAN EDITION OF THE FISHES, and THIRD EDITIONS OF THE “ANIMAL BOOK” and THE BIRDS.

A magnificent sammelband, bound in alum-tawed pigskin over beveled wooden boards, lacking one clasp. Binding soiled and with slight wear but still very fine. The boards are ruled and tooled in blind with medallion portrait heads and Biblical figures. The text of all four volumes is in excellent condition. There is one small tear to the lower corner of leaf B2, with loss of a few letters. One of the birds in the first work has been nicely colored by a 16th c. colorist. The works are illustrated with over 1,000 fine woodcuts of birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, etc. The full-page woodcut of the rhinoceros is based on Dürer’s famous engraving. The other illustrations, which Gessner considered an essential part of his work, are the work of Hans Asper, Johann Thomas, for some of the birds, Lukas Schrön.

Conrad Gessner’s “Historia Animalium” is a landmark in the study of the animal kingdom. Drawing on a wealth of authorities both ancient and modern and illustrating his works with highly detailed and –to the degree possible- accurate woodcuts of the animals that he described, Gessner set a new standard for zoological literature. His encyclopedia eclipsed all other attempts at a comprehensive work on the subject, displacing Aristotle’s own “Historia Animalium” and substituting for it a tour-de-force of Renaissance humanist science.

Gesner’s work covered “all known animals, including mythical and imaginary beasts, and newly 'discovered' creatures from the far north, the New World, and the East Indies.” The work was first published in four volumes in Zurich, 1551-1558. Vol. 1, “De quadrupedibus viviparis” covered quadrupeds bearing live young; Vol. 2, “De quadrupedibus oviparis”, egg-laying quadrupeds; Vol. 3, “De avium natura”, birds; and Vol. 4, “De aquatilibus”, fish and other aquatic animals. A fifth volume, “de Serpentium natura” on snakes, imaginary serpents, and scorpions, appeared posthumously in 1587.

The German-language Edition:

1563 volumes 2 and 3 were combined and abridged to form the German-language “Thierbuch”, which forms Vol. I of the set offered here. The book of birds (“Vogelbuch”) is a translation of “De avium natura”; The “Fischbuch” is a translation of “De aquatilibus”; and the Schlangenbuch is the German version of “de Serpentium natura”.

VD 16, G 1736, 1729, 1742 und 1745; Nissen 1552, 1555 and 1557