Enlarged Plantin issue of a pioneering classic of botany, with about 307 excellent woodcuts

Pena, Pierre / Matthias de Lobel. Nova stirpium adversaria.

Antwerp, Christoffel Plantin, 1576.

Small folio (200 x 299 mm). (4), 471, (1 blank), 15, (1 blank), 24, [12 (of 16)] pp. Title-page with an elaborately decorated woodcut architectural frame, about 307 (of about 317) woodcut botanical illustrations and a few woodcut decorated initials (4 series). Set in roman types with extensive italic, and textura, fraktur and Greek for the Dutch, German and Greek plant names. Contemporary or near contemporary limp sheepskin parchment, sewn on 3 double cords, with "PENA | ET | LOBEL" in manuscript capitals at the head of the spine. Modern ties.


Enlarged Plantin issue of the first edition of an important Latin herbal with more than 300 excellent woodcut illustrations showing the plants in remarkable detail, usually including the roots. Its classification system, based on characteristics of the leaves, was better than any used previously. Thomas Purfoot first issued this edition at London in 1571 (title-page 1570), but Plantin bought a large part of the press run and reissued the book with extensive and important additions. He replaced the preliminaries, but also added a 15-page appendix (pp. 456-471) with 35 new woodcuts, the 15-page "Formulae aliquot" and 36 pages of indices. Two additional leaves ([3], [1 blank] pp.) printed with the indices (5*3-4) formed an additional appendix with 10 additional woodcuts, but have been removed from the present copy. Its last page also included Plantin's colophon, dated 26 July 1576. The main text (in both the London and the Plantin issues) is divided into two parts. The title on the title-page applies to the first part (pp. 1-410; A-2M1), while the second part devoted to trees has its own drop-title (also in the running heads): "Fruticum, subfruticum, cremiorum & arborum adversaria, concisaeque". Both the London issue and the Plantin issue include 5 slips with text and woodcuts pasted on or tipped in at the relevant places, described by Henry. Lobel also wrote a companion volume, Plantarum seu stirpium historia (Voet 1578 I), which Plantin printed to accompany the Nova stirpium adversaria, but the two were also issued separately and the Plantarum is not included here.

Plantin also acquired the original woodblocks and used them for his own botanical publications. They include the first illustration of the tobacco plant, Nicotina tabacum, including the head of a person smoking tobacco in a horn-shaped pipe.

Lacking the 2-leaf (3-page) appendix that followed the index (with its 10 woodcuts). An old tear running 1 cm into the text on J6, a corner torn off 2P3, not approaching the text, the occasional sheet slightly browned or foxed, but otherwise in good condition. Vellum binding lightly soiled. Plantin's expanded issue of a seminal botanical work, which set a high standard with both its scholarly text and its more than 300 excellent woodcuts.


Arents 13 (note). Arnold Arboretum, p. 437. Henry 289 (1571 London issue, but noting the Plantin issue on pp. 28-31). Hunt 127. Nissen, BBI 1218. Plesch 313. Stafleu/Cowan 7625 (note). Voet, Plantin press 1578 II (version B), III & IV.