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BESLER, Basilius.

(1561 – 1629)

(Born: Nürnberg, Germany, 13 February 1561; Died: Nürnberg, Germany, 13 March 1629) German apothecary & botanist.

From 1589 to 1629, Besler was an apothecary and from 1594 a leading citizen of Nuremberg. He founded a natural history cabinet and a botanical garden. He is considered the best botanist of his time. His principle work in the field and that on which his reputation rests is the highly illustrated work, Hortus Eystettensis (1st ed., Nürnberg, 1613). It consists of large folio volume containing 366 exquisite plates with descriptive letterpress that picture about 1,000 plant species in full bloom.

Biographical references: ADB: 2, 555. Böhner, K., "Die Literaten unter den Nürnberger Apothekern", Apotheker Zeitung, 47, (1932), 1491 f. Biographie Universelle. Catalogue of Portraits of Naturalists: 178 [3 portraits listed]. DBA: I 94, 166-170. DBE: 1, 491. Deutsche Apotheker Biographie: 1, 48-50. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51: 1, col. 1047. NDB: 2, 178 [by G. Löhlein]. Nissen (BBI): 1, 71-3 & 2, 15. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: p. 26. Schmitz, R., K. Bartels, and H. Goßmann, "Nürnbergs Apotheker und Apotheken bis 1632", Pharmazeutisches Zeitung, 108, (1963), 1210. Schneider, W., "Basilius Besler", Pharmazeutische Industrie, 16, (1954), 474 f. WBI. Will, Nürnbergisches Gelehrten-Lexicon, 1755-1808. Zekert, Deutsche Apotheker, 1942: 74, portrait.

Fascicvlvs Rariorvm, 1616

1. Latin, 1616 [First edition].
[Contained within an elaborate engraved frame showing Besler's cabinet:] Fascicvlvs | Rariorvm et aspectu dig | norvm Varii Generis Qvæ | collegit ei svis impensis | æri ad Vivvm incidi | cvravit atqve | evvlga- | vit | Basilius Besler Noriberg: Pharmaceuticæ | chymicæ & Botanicæ cultor et | admirator | Me trasuit hæc, alias asîa, et sua quemque vosuptas, | Sea tibi mitto tua, Zoile mitte micam. | Anno ChrIstI DoMInI SerVatorIs VerI.

Oblong 4°: 25l., consisting of an engraved title page and 24 engraved plates. A dedication leaf may also accompany some copies. The date of publication is derived from the title page chronogram, "Anno ChrIstI DoMInI SerVatorIs VerI." The title page is engraved by Hans Troschel after Peter Isselburg's design. Page size: 220 x 310 mm.

Contents: Engraved title page, verso blank.; 24 plates.

Rare. A suite of engravings by P. Isselburg and H. Troschel [see notes below] illustrating the contents of Besler's `Wunderkammer' located in Nürnberg. This was among the first such natural history collections in Germany, and like its Italian counterparts contained all manner of natural objects. The engraved title depicts Besler showing a visitor his cabinet, while a servant advances offering a saurian skull. There are drawers labeled Conchylia, Fructus, Lapides, shelves with chameleons, shells, an auk's egg, dried eels, while hanging from the wall and ceiling are a sawfish skull, bird of paradise, unicorn horns, various serpents, and a blowfish. Other shelves support a row of books, apothecary jars, branches of coral, etc. There is no text to the work instead there are 24 engraved plates illustrating the contents of the cabinets. Every illustration is named and some have short accompanying descriptions in Latin and German. The plates are grouped into 6 of Marina, showing specimens of wonder from the sea, 2 of Conchylia, showing remarkable shells, 6 of Fructus depicting seeds and fruit, 4 of Animalia picturing chameleons, crocodiles, snakes, an armadillo, etc. and 6 of Lapides, including fossils, corals, and minerals. Only the engraved title is signed Petrus Isselburg, but he is probably responsible for the design of all the engravings.

Peter (Petrus) Isselburg (Eisselburg). (Born: Cologne, Germany, c1568; Died: Bamburg or Nürnberg, Germany, c1630) German draughtsman, engraver & printer. Isselburg is thought to have been a student of Crispijn van de Passe I or another Netherlandish artist. His work is known from 1606, when he was in Cologne, primarily producing frontispieces and prints for Cologne printers. By 1610 he was resident in Nuremberg. His work encompassed a broad spectrum of subjects, including portraits of scholars, generals and secular and clerical princes. His city panoramas are of historical interest and are distinguished by great technical proficiency. He also left a large number of sheets with emblems, costumes and scenes from history. In 1622 he left Nuremberg, subsequently moving to Bamberg in 1623, where he became a printer (1625), then to Coburg c1626 and back to Nuremberg in 1630. He was regarded as one of the most important German artists in his day.

Hans Troschel (Tröschel). (Born: Nuremberg, Germany, 21 September 1585; Died: Rome, Italy, 19 May 1628) German draughtsmen & engraver. Troschel trained in Nuremberg with Peter Isselburg, for whom he later worked. Emperor Matthias's Entry into Nuremberg on 3 July 1612 was one of his first works. Signed and dated engravings and drawings increased after 1616. He worked partly from his own drawings and partly after drawings by other artists. Besides portraits and coats of arms he engraved views of Nuremberg, genre scenes and themes. His drawings consist mainly of studies of heads and figures. In 1624 Troschel moved to Rome, where his work was influenced by Francesco Villamena.

Bibliographical references: BL [462.b.15.]. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 257. Murray, Museums, 1904: 1, 98-9. Nissen (ZBI): no. 345 [incorrect collation]. NUC: 51, 95 [NB 0388197-9]. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: no. 746. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: 42, 160 & 204. (Isselburg (Eisselburg)) ADB. DBA: I 591, 59-142; II 639, 251-256. Nagler, Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, 1835-52. NDB. Thieme & Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon, 1907-50: 19, 265-6. WBI. (Troschel (Tröschel)) DBA: I 1286, 109,110-112; II 1319, 253-255. Nagler, Neues allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon, 1835-52. Thieme & Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon, 1907-50: 33, 429-30. WBI.

2. Latin, 1622 [2nd edition].
[Contained within an elaborate engraved frame showing Besler's cabinet:] Continvatio. | Rariorvm Et Aspectv Dig- | norvm Varii Generis Qvæ | Collegit Et Svis Impensis | Æri Ad Vivum Incidi | Curavit Atqve | Evvulga- | vit. | Basilius Besler Noriberg: Pharmaceuticæ, | chymicæ & Botanicæ cultor et | admirator. | Me trasuit hæc, alias alîa, et sua quemque vosuptas, | Sed tibi mitto tuam, Zoile mitte meam. | Anno ChrIstI DoMInI SerVatorIs VerI. | Se VerI.

Oblong 4°: 33 leaves, consisting of an engraved title page, one leaf of dedicatory text and 31 plates. The date of publication is derived from the title page chronogram, "Anno ChrIstI DoMInI SerVatorIs VerI Se VerI" (Cf. Nissen-Zoological: no. 345). The title page is engraved by Hans Troschel after Peter Isselburg's design, and was used in the publication of the first edition in 1616.

Rare. Although stated to be a `Continuatio' on the title page, this is a reissue of the original 24 plates of the first edition of 1616, together with a modified title leave, 7 new engraved plates, and an engraved dedication leave in Latin that might in some cases be found in the 1616 edition. Therefore, the text consists of 31 plates illustrating natural history specimens, which are labeled in Latin and German. Besides the original plates, an additional 6 show Lapides and one more Fructus. The title engraving is reused from the 1616 printing, with only the wording of the title changed.

Bibliographical references: BL [725.i.7.]. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 257. Nissen (ZBI): no. 345. NUC: 51, 95 [NB 0388196]. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 826.

Rariora Musei Besleriani, 1716

3. Latin, 1716.
[In red:] Rariora | [in black:] Mvsei Besleriani | quae olim | Basilivs | et | Michael Rvprtvs | [in red:] Besleri | [in black:] Collegerunt, | [in red:] Aeneisqve Tabvlis Ad Vivvm | [in black:] Incisa Evvlgarvnt: | nunc commentariolo illustrata | a | [in red:] Johanne Henrico | [in black:] Lochnero, | [in red:] Vt Virtvti Toy Makaritoy | [in black:] Exstaret Monvmentvm, Denvo Lvci | Pvblicae Commisit Et Lavdationem Ejvs | Fvnebrem Adjecit | Maestissimus Parens | [in red:] Michael Fridericvs | [in black:] Lochnervs | Archiater Caes. Acade. Leo- | pold. Carol. Nat. Cvr. Ephem. | Director. | [in red, double rule] | [in black:] Anno O.R. M DCC XVI.

2°: )(2 )()(2 )()()(2 [a]-c2 A-Z2 Aa-Ee2; 68l.; [24], 1-112 p., frontispiece (portrait of Lochner), 40 plates (folding). Title page in red and black. Printer's devices, head and tail pieces scattered throughout the text. Page size: 324 x 195 mm.

Contents: [Frontispiece]; [2 pgs], Title page, verso blank.; [9 pgs], Preface.; [1 pg], Testimonial, signed "Lvcas Schroeckivs" together with a letter to "Michaelem Fridericvm Lochnervm" signed "Jo. Henrici Lochner."; [1 pg], "Lavdatio Fvnebris, | Quam | In Splendidis Exequiis | Jvvenis Nobilissimi, | Joh. Henrici | Lochneri | De | Hvmmelstein, | ..."; [1 pg], Blank.; [8 pgs], "Prorector Academiae | Magnifice, | ..."; [2 pgs], "ODE | Fvnebris | In | Obitvm | Io. Henrici | Lochneri | ..."; 1-112, Text.; [At end], 40 plates (folding).

Plates: The signed frontispiece is a portrait, while the other plates show fruits, birds, animals, shells, fossils, stones and minerals. These forty folding plates are bound into the book's spine at the center fold by the use of a strip of paper. None of them is signed, however.

The plates comprise: Frontispiece. Portrait of J.H. Lochner contained within an oval frame signed G.D. Heümann del. et sc. [Plates I-VI.] Frvctvs [fruits]. Plate VII. No title [roots & berries]. Plates VIII-IX. No title [birds]. Plate X. No title [horns of various animals]. [Plate XI.] Animalia [armidillo & lizards]. [Plate XII.] Animalia [lizards & salemanders]. [Plate XIII.] Animalia [lizards & aligators]. [Plate XIV.] Animalia [snakes]. Plate XV. No title [hammerhead shark]. [Plate XVI.] Marina [fish, turtle & octapus]. [Plate XVII.] Marina [fish & shark]. [Plate XVIII.] Marina [crabs]. [Plate XIX.] Conchilla [shells]. [Plate XX.] Conchilla [shells]. [Plate XXI.] No title [shells in fanciful displays]. [Plate XXII.] Marina [starfish]. [Plate XXIII.] Marina [sponges]. [Plate XXIV.] Marina [corals]. [Plate XXV.] Marina [corals]. Plate XXVI. No title [corals]. [Plate XXVII.] Lapides [fossil shells]. [Plate XXVIII.] Lapides [fossils]. [Plate XXXIX.] Lapides [stones]. [Plate XXX.] Lapides [concretions]. [Plate XXXI.] Lapides [fossils]. [Plate XXXII.] Lapides [fossils]. [Plate XXXIII.] Lapides [fossil shells]. [Plate XXXIV.] Lapides [fossil shells]. [Plate XXXV.] Lapides [fossil plants]. [Plate XXXVI.] Lapides [stones]. [Plate XXXVII.] Lapides [stones]. [Plate XXXVIII.] Lapides [fossil shark teeth]. [Plate XXXIX.] Lapides [stones]. Plate XXXX. No title [mushrooms].

Rare. The last published description of Beslers' remarkable `Wunderkammer' written by Michael Rupertus von Lochner, and after his death, published as a lasting tribute by his father, Johann Henrich [see notes below]. This beautifully illustrated work, describes various objects of natural history contained in the collection started by Basilius Besler and continued by his nephew, Michael Rupert Besler. A beautiful portrait of Johann Henrich Lochner is used as a frontispiece. The text then presents descriptions of the objects pictured on the accompaning plates. These illustrate fruits, roots & berries, birds, lizards, salemanders, aligators, snakes, sharkss, fish, turtle, octapus, crabs, shells, starfish, sponges, corals, fossil shells, stones, fossil plants and fossil shark teeth. The 24 plates originally published in Michael Rupert Belser's Gazophylacium Rerum Naturalium (1st ed., Nürnberg, 1642) [see next entry] are republished in this work, together with 16 additional.

Michael Rupert Lochner. (Born: Nürnberg, Germany, c1696; Died: Nürnberg, Germany, 1715) German author. Son of the physician, Johann Heinrich Lochner von Hummelstein, Michael authored six works before his premature death at the age of 19, including an account of Besler's Museum.

Johann Heinrich Lochner von Hummelstein. (Born: Fürth, Germany, 8 February 1662; Died: Nürnberg, Germany, 15 October 1720) German physician. He studied medicine at the Universities of Rostock, Kiel and Altersdorf, and then went on an extended trip to Paris, Leyden, Vienna and Padua to further extend his skills. Afterward he was appointed to a position in Altersdorf but moved on to Nürnberg where he opened a private medical practice. His knowledge of natural science lead to his appointment as director of the Akademie der Naturaforscher (Academy of Naturalists) in Nürnberg.

Bibliographical references: BL. BMC: 3, 1162. Freiesleben, Sächsische Mineralien-Verzeichnisse, 1828: no. 5. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 362. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 1, 260. Nissen (ZBI): no. 348. NUC. Pritzel, Thesaurus Literaturæ Botanicæ, 1871-3: no. 747. Schröter's Journal für die Liebhaber: 5 (17??), 72. Wilson, History of Mineral Collecting, 1994: p. 205. (Lochner) (Lochner von Hummelstein) Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 4, 21 [by Seitz]. Jöcher, Gelehrten-Lexikon, 1750-51. Poggendorff: 1, cols. 1484-5.