Rare early edition of a classic commentary on ancient Arabic and Greek pharmacological works

Manlio, Giovanni Giacomo (Johannes Jacobus Manlius or Manliis), Quirico de Augustis and Paulus de Suardis. Luminare maius. Cinthius ut totum radiis illuminat orbem. Illuminat latebras sic medicina tuas. Lumen apothecariorum.

(Venice, Gregorio de Gregori, 8 Jan. 1513).

Folio (305 x 210 mm). 77, (2), (1 blank) ff. With 13 woodcut decorated initials (6 series?) plus 8 repeats, 4-line typographic "Lombarbic" initials. Set in rotunda gothic types in 2 columns, with a preliminary note in roman type. With contemporary pen decorations in brown ink added to about half of the initials and occasional similar pen decorations in the margins, an occasional manuscript paragraph mark, some rubrications in brown ink and some initials coloured with a transparent ochre wash. Early 20th-century vellum, possibly incorporating older materials, sewn on 3 recessed supports, red spine label.


Seventh known copy of an early edition of an important treatise on pharmacology and medical botany, by Giovanni Giacomo Manlio di Bosco (fl. 1490-post 1500), first published in Venice 1490 or Pavia 1494 (Sordano records an edition by Octavius Scotus in 1490, but the ISTC records no edition by him until 1496). It is a commentary on ancient Arabic and Greek pharmacological works, especially the Arabic treatises of Yuhanna Ibn Masawayh (ca. 777-857), a Nestorian Christian physician from Assyria who taught at the academy in Gundeshapur, Iran, and was personal physician to four caliphs. It gives instructions for preparing numerous medicines, indicating the quantities of the ingredients (simples, each derived from a single plant) and describing each ingredient. The present edition includes Manlio's preliminary note addressed to Bernardinus Niger, included in the 1494, 1496 and 1499 editions but omitted in many later editions.

The title-page indicates that the book also contains "Lumen apothecariorum", a work by Quirico de Augustis de Tortona of Milan (fl. 1486-97), first published in 1492. But it is not present here or in any of the other seven copies we have traced. The two works were combined in the Venice editions of 1504, ca. 1502/05 and 1506. De Gregori apparently followed one of these editions but did not include the second work. Hieronymus Surianus (fl. 1458?, d. 1522?) edited the first two.

With contemporary and later marginal manuscript notes. With the text area of B2.7 somewhat browned, an occasional small and unobtrusive stain, and a few small worm holes in the last few leaves, but generally in very good condition. Some of the manuscript notes have been shaved. The binding is slightly dirty and the boards slightly bowed, but the binding is still good. A rare early edition of an important work of pharmacology.


Durling 2938. EDIT 16 29621 (1 copy). ICCU 29621 (same copy). KVK & WorldCat (5 copies). Emiliano Sordano, Il Luminare maius di Manlio del Bosco, thesis, University of Torino, 2010, p. 41. USTC 840112 (2 copies). Cf. Adams M 370 (1506 ed.). BM-STC Italian 410 (1504 and other eds.). Schelenz, Geschichte der Pharmazie, p. 414 (1529 ed.). Wellcome 4017 (1628 Lyon ed.). Not in Garrison & Morton; Honeyman; Norman Lib.