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STELLA, Erasmus.

(1450? – 1521)

(Born: c1450; Died: Zwickau, Germany, 1521) German physician.

Stella (or Stüler) studied medicine at the Universities of Leipzig and Bologna, from where he received his M.D. He was appointed town physician of Zwickau in 1501, later becoming burgomeister.

Biographical references: ADB: 36, 30-1. Hirsch, Biographisches Lexikon, 1884-8: 5, 412. WBI.

Gemmis Liber Unicus, 1517

1. Latin, 1517 [First edition].
[Contained within an elaborate woodcut border:] Erasmi Stellae | Libonothani | Interprae= | Tamenti | Gemma= | Rym Li= | Bellvs | Vni= | Cvs. | Sola salus seruire deo, | Sunt coetera fraudes.

4°: 21l.; no pagination, signiatures or foliation. Colophon: "Finit libellus de Gemmis doctoris Erasmi Stueler Zuickauiensis phisici & senatoris precipui quem Nurembergæ imprimebat Federicus Peypus Mense sextili Anno partus virginei MDXVII." [=Nürnberg, Friedrich Peypus, 1517]. Page size: 130 x 90 mm.

Very rare. One of the earliest 16th century treatises on mineralogy and precious stones. It is a different type of lapidary, with its arrangement of gems and minerals according to color rather than the typical alphabetical sequence. The four classes are white, green, red and blue or black. Thus are classified: I. De gemmis candidis, including diamond, rock crystal, iris, ceraunia & astroite, pederote, asteria, achate, draconite, allectorio, and margaritis. II. De gemmis viridibus, including smaragdo (emerald), beryllis, chrysoprasio, topatio, callaide, prasio, heliotropio, jaspide. III. De gemmis rubeis, including carbunculorum generibus, amthysto, hyacintho, sarda, sardonyce, anyce, hematite, corallio, hephesite, chrysolito, electro, and opalo. IV. Gemmis coeruleis & nigris, including cyaneo, saphiro, calaide & ceraunia, de moris gemmis, de gemmis ad ectypam, etc. Adams (1938) notes that the descriptions are better than earlier works, although Thorndike (1923-58) declares the work "little more than a compilation from Greek and Latin writers, above all, Pliny ..."

A remarkable feature of the work is the beautiful woodcut border surrounding the title, depicting an architectural frame with the figures of St. Peter and St. Barbara and two putti holding the Nuremburg arms. This fine cut is thought to be by Dürer's pupil Erhard Schön (Dodgson, 1911).

Bibliographical references: Adams, Birth and Development, 1938: p. 148. Dodgson, Catalogue of Early German and Flemish Woodcuts, 1911: 1, 423, 3, note. Gatterer, Mineralogischen Literatur, 1798-9: 2, 16. LKG: XVI 188. NUC: 567, 255 [NS 0903821]. Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 2, ??. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 6331 [not seen]. Thorndike, History of Magic, 1923-58: 6, 302. Ward & Carozzi, Geology Emerging, 1984: no. 2105.

Gemmis Liber Unicus, 1530

2. Latin, 1530 [2nd edition].
[ornament] Erasmi | Stellæ Libanotha | Ni Viri Clariss. | De gemis libellus | unicus. | ¶ Plinius secundus de | gemmis. | ¶ Ioannes Syluius. E= | granus ad Lect. | Oblectant si te Prasrij, gemmæqz nitentes | Si tibi Hyacinti, Sardonicesqz placent | Crysolitus, durusqz Adamas, uiridesqz Smaragdi | Purpureusqz lon, multicolorqz Mitrax | Æthiopes, Cyprus, quicquid misere uel Indi | Si placet, & quicquid dat mare cæruleũ | Hunc lege cõcinna moneo breuitate libellũ | Qui dabit ingenio noscere tanta tuo. | Argentorati per Henri= | cum Sybold.

8°: A-H8; 64l.; no pagination or foliation. Ornamental initials and chapter ornaments. Page size: 151 x 102 mm.

Contents: A1, Title page, verso blank.; A2, Dedication.; A3r-D5r, "Gemmarum libellus unicus."; D5v, Blank.; D6r-H8r, Pliny's Historiæ de gemmis.; H8v, Blank.

Very rare. The first portion contains Stella's treatise on gemstones while a second part reproduces Pliny's Book 37 on the gemstones. This edition was edited by Heinrich Seybold [fl. 1528-1530], who dates the dedication: cale[n]dis Ianuuarijs [sic] (=January, 1530).

Dedication dated by the editor, Heinrich Seybold: cale[n]dis Ianuuarijs [sic] "Caii Plinii Secvndi Naturalis historiae [lib. XXXVII] de gemmis": p. [57]-[128].

Bibliographical references: BM/STC German: 831. Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 375. NUC: 567, 255 [NS 0903820]. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 6332. Wellcome Catalog (Books): 1, no. 6063.

3. Latin, 1736 [3rd edition].
Erasmi Stellæ, | Libanothani, | Interpretamen- | Ti Gemmarvm. | Libellvs Vnicvs | Plinivs Secvndvs | De | Gemmis. | [rule] | Joh. Syluius. Egranus ad lect. | [...8 lines of gemstone descriptions...] | [rule] | Sola salus seruire Deo, | Sunt coetera fraudes. | [rule] | Erfvrti Et Lipsiæ. | Apud Carol. Frid. Jvngnicolivm, MDCCXXXVI.

8°: A-H4 I2; 32l.; [1]-64 p. Page size: 204 x 162 mm.

Very scarce. Although not indicated on the title page, LKG records this edition was edited by Franz Ernst Brückmann.

Bibliographical references: BL [444.c.50.]. BMC. NUC: 567, 255 [NS 0903822]. Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 6333.